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July 31, 2011

Zambia records second consecutive maize bumper harvest

by Jowit Saluseki

 Zambia has been heralded as a new bread basket, es, especially in maize production, and that is attributable to a number of factors. Among the most significant reasons for the two successive bumper harvests of the last consecutive farming seasons is the introduction of the Farmers Input Support Programme (FISP).FISP, previously referred to as the Fertiliser Support Programme(FSP).

The 2009/10 maize harvest stood at about 2.8 million tonnes and the 2010/11 at more than three million tonnes. Small-scale farmers were given fertiliser and seed packs.

Agriculture and Cooperatives Minister Eustarkio Kazonga attributed the increase to optimum climatic conditions, increase in hecterage under cultivation and the number of small-scale farmers who were provided with subsidised seed and fertiliser increasing from 534,000 to 900,000.

"The amount of inputs allocated under the farmers support programme rose from 166,000 last season to 178,000 tonnes," Kazonga said.

Lusaka based economist and former official at the Zambia National Farmers Union Robert Sanyikosa, was of the view that in as much as there is a bumper crop in Zambia, the relevant authorities such as the Food Reserve Agency (FRA) are supposed to store the crops, especially maize in a secure environment to avert possible wastage.

Agro- economist specialist Gift Bwalya said, "Some of the Southern African nations are grappling with the scarcity of food, vis-a vis maize which is consumed by millions of its citizens, hence FRA should not rush to resell the maize which they are purchasing from the farmers. With weather changes that are very unpredictable, it would be unwise to sell our maize to our neighbouring countries, only to starve the population in case of a drought, ’’ he said.

Mr Bwalya cites lack of adequate rainfall, lack of advancement in new technology; poor government policies towards agriculture programmes and displacement of people especially in conflict prone countries as some of the contributing factors to food shortage in Africa.

Times of Zambia

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