Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Muntanga advises govt to encourage winter maize growing
By Henry Sinyangwe
Tue 16 Apr. 2013, 14:00 CAT

THE inconsistencies in agricultural policies explain a lack of focus on the question of food security for the country, says Kalomo Central member of parliament Request Muntanga.

And Muntanga has advised the government to support the growing of winter maize in view of the projected poor harvest.

He said it was dangerous to have inconsistencies in the agriculture sector which was Zambia's potential area of growth.

Agriculture minister Robert Sichinga recently banned exports of maize and other related products before home affairs Edgar Lungu lifted the ban.

"The inconsistency of today you are banning exports, tomorrow you are lifting shows that someone somewhere does not know what quantities of maize is held in the country at any one time. It tells us that there is no focus to tell us how much as we holding as food reserve," Muntanga said in an interview yesterday.

"There are so many things you have to put in place. Whether the one who lifted the ban on exports has enough information why he did that or whether there is fear from the one who effected the ban that the stocks are low. So the two ministers should reconcile their difference for the sake of the country. There should not be inconstancy from government on the issues of agriculture."

Muntanga said the dilemma showed the lack of focus on ensuring food security.

He said 50 per cent of the crop had failed hence the need to put in place measures to cushion the looming hunger.

"It is something that should be decided having known what harvesting we are going to have this year. In the field, the situation is bad; 50 per cent of the crop has failed, in areas like Sesheke, it is a total loss. You can place Southern Province at 30-60 per cent loss. Those who planted early have got some maize," Muntanga said.

He said importing maize after three years of bumper harvests would dent the image of the current PF government.

"Because of the poor harvest pending, government should support the winter maize. They should support farmers with irrigation facilities to grow the hectarage of what would be the shortfall. If we start importing maize now, having come from excess production and export by the MMD for three years consecutively, it play very badly n the new government. It will show that there is no seriousness to agriculture," said Muntanga.

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