Thursday, September 05, 2013

Sichinga toasts EP for low maize output cost
By Christopher Miti in Chipata
Tue 13 Aug. 2013, 14:00 CAT

COMMENT - To the Minister - yield per hectare is not everything. Seven metric tonnes per hectare is not low, it is at the high end for maize yield. What really produces a high yield per hectare are root crops - cassava, sweet potatoes, even ginger can produce 30 to 50 tonnes per hectare. It is this colonial era obsession with maize that is limiting production, in my opinion. - MrK

AGRICULTURE minister Robert Sichinga says Zambia's production per hectare is low. And Sichinga says the cost of producing a 50kg bag of maize is highest in Western Province compared to other parts of the country.

Speaking at a press briefing in Chipata on Saturday, Sichinga said as a country, Zambia produces an average of 1.89 metric tonnes per hectare which was lower than what Malawi and Zimbabwe produced. He said Malawi produced six metric tonnes while Zimbabwe produces seven metric tonnes per hectare.

"So we are very low as far as productivity is concerned. Malawi, Zimbabwe and other countries are doing far much better in terms of productivity. Zambia is the least in terms of the productivity yet we have got the water, we have got the soils and we have got the land. So it's a matter of these methods that we use that are causing us to lose on this. So one of the things that we are doing is to improve on productivity to work on the yields," Sichinga said.

He also said the government had carried out a countrywide production cost survey to find out how much it costs to produce a 50kg bag of maize. Sichinga said the production cost of a 50kg bag of maize is region specific.

"The cost of producing a 50-kilogramme bag as an average in every province is as follows; the lowest cost is in North Western Province which is K30 per 50-kilogramme bag of maize, Muchinga is at K31 per 50-kilogramme, Luapula K35, Northern K38, Central K41, Lusaka K55, Copperbelt K56, Southern Province which has been our granary up until now produces at a very high cost of K63. I am pleased to say to you that Eastern Province is one of the lowest; it produces a 50-kilogramme bag of maize at K30. The worst performing is Western they produce at K86," he said.

Sichinga said that in Western Province, people spend more money in producing maize than any other province in the country.

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