Wednesday, 14 May 2014

Zambia Targets 4 Million Maize Metric Tonnes Harvest For 2014/2015 Farming Season

By Paul Shalala in Kafue

Zambia has flagged off its distribution of farming inputs for the 2014/2015 agriculture season with an ambitious target of producing a 4 million metric tonnes maize bumper harvest.

This comes barely a week after the announcement that in the 2013/2014 farming season, Zambia has recorded a projected 3.3 million metric tonnes maize bumper harvest.

Agriculture Minister Wylbur Simusa, who flagged the exercise, says the 4 million metric tonnes is achievable if the farming imputs are delivered on time to all districts.

“Am directing all Provincial and District Agriculture Coordinating Officers to ensure that all the farming inputs are delivered to our farmers by end of August or latest September. This year we want to produce a super bumper harvest,” said Simusa.

The flag off was held at the Nitrogen Chemicals of Zambia (NCZ) plant in Kafue town, a significant parastatal was recently recapitalized following years of its neglect.

NCZ has been contracted to produce 106,000 metric tonnes of compound D fertilizer which will be distributed to all farmers in the coming three months.

So far, NCZ has produced 10,300 metric tonnes of compound D.

The fertilizer will be delivered under the Farmer Input Support Program (FISP) which was chaotic last farming season.

To achieve the 4 million metric tonnes maize harvest, government has this year increased beneficiaries under the FISP program from 900,000 to 1 million small scale farmers.

According to Mr Simusa, this will help in increasing productivity which will in turn help in securing food security at the national level.

And Zambia Cooperative Federation (ZCF) Director General James Chirwa says the 4 million metric tonnes is achievable  if all the strategies are followed well.

Mr Chirwa says government must ensure it delivers inputs on time and extension services adequately offered to farmers.

“The minister talked about 4 million metric tonnes. But I can tell you that even 6 million is achievable if we put in place measures to empower our farmers in this marketing season,” said Chirwa.

He said the country must move to a level were farming inputs are permanently in the districts through out the year, as opposed to distributing them just before the rain season.

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