Saturday, February 22, 2014

Govt 'regrets' delay in delivering farming inputs
By Gift Chanda in Lusaka and Creavat Chituta in Zambezi
Sun 01 Dec. 2013, 14:01 CAT

AGRICULTURE minister Robert Sichinga has apologised to farmers for the late delivery of farming inputs this year. Sichinga said the delay was regrettable but assured that food security was not going to be significantly impacted. Farmers across the country have expressed disappointment over the late delivery of inputs for the 2013/2014 farming season.

"Our plan was to have delivered the Compound D and seeds by 31st October but we have been delayed by one month," Sichinga said in an interview on Friday. "I regret the delay; I wish I had done it, as I said, by 31st of October."

Sichinga said for D compound fertliser, "everybody has received" while seed had been dispatched to all provinces except Central and Lusaka provinces.

"For those provinces, I am using the Disaster Management Unit to deliver. The trucks are going out today Friday so by next week Friday, we will have delivered to everybody," he said.

"For urea fertiliser, we have completed Luapula, we have done a good part of Northern, some parts of Muchinga and we're now proceeding to other provinces. We want to complete the distribution of urea by end of December."

On payments to farmers that supplied maize to the Food Reserve Agency in the last marketing season, Sichinga said the farmers were still owed K68 million.

"We are hoping to clear that not later than next week," he added.
Meanwhile, chief Chinyama of the Luvale speaking people of Zambezi district has appealed to the government to prioritise the area when distributing the inputs.

He said the government should distribute inputs to places like Chinyama Litapi located in the west bank about 96 kilometres from Zambezi town.
He said distributing inputs late in his chiefdom was a challenge because the area usually experiences floods.

The traditional leader was speaking when a team of veterinary staff from the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock, headed by the acting provincial veterinary officer Peter Banda, paid a courtesy call on him at his palace in Chinyama Litapi during the monitoring of the ongoing vaccination of cattle against Contagious Bovine Pleural Pneumonia (CBPP).

Chief Chinyama urged the veterinary staff to cover all the areas in his chiefdom. He, however, cautioned farmers against refusing to vaccinate their cattle.

Dr Banda said the government was committed to eradicating CBPP in order for the country to have healthy animals.

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