12 October 2012

Zambia: Govt Appeals to ZNFU for Help

THE Government has appealed to the Zambia National Farmers Union (ZNFU) to help it resolve challenges that the agricultural sector is facing.

Vice president Guy Scott made the appeal in Lusaka yesterday at Mulungushi International Conference Centre (MICC) during the 107th ZNFU Congress held.

He said government on its own could not resolve all the problems in the agricultural sector as it had many other areas that equally needed attention.

He said Government expected the ZNFU to help resolve the recent cotton prices crisis that saw many farmers lose out on their yield due to the drastic reduction of the price.

He said ZNFU should have sorted out the cotton issues between the ginneries and the small scale farmers and not wait for Government.

"Government cannot sort out all the problems that the country is experiencing.

We need your input as ZNFU to help us resolve some of the problems in the agriculture sector is facing. Let's work together and see how we can enhance the," he said.

And Dr Scott said the maize marketing was open to the private sector as Government only through the Food Reserve Agency (FRA) could not buy all the maize in the country.

He cited the maize marketing as another area where the people should not expect Government to buy all the maize from small scale farmers.

He said FRA was not created to take up the functions of the National Agricultural Marketing Board (NAMBOARD) which was the buyer of everything, emphasising that the agency had its own functions.

"FRA has its own functions and those that want to buy maize from farmers are free to do so and Government would not stop them.

"There is a shortage of maize in the region and everyone is here to buy maize. We won't stop them as this is good for the country as there is more money coming in, but at the same time we do not want to find all the grain gone, and that's why FRA was created," he said.

He said it was pointless for Government to buy huge volumes of maize and later allow it to go to waste and fatten rats and Weevils, but will instead only buy one million tonnes for reserve.

And ZANACO managing director Martyn Schouten confirmed that the company had finalised the financial agreement to help Government to pay small scale farmers who sold their maize to FRA.

Mr Schouten said ZANACO believed that the agricultural sector had potential to provide wholesale employment and subsequent wealth creation for many Zambians.

And European Union (EU) Head of Delegation to Zambia Gilles Hervio said the e-voucher system in the agricultural sector should be introduced rather than expensive Government tenders.

He was happy that the current minister of Agriculture Emmanuel Chenda was committed to the introduction of this new policy.

"I am convinced that next year the resolve to change to e-vouchers will be stronger than the resistance," Mr Hervio said.

And a Farmer from Masaiti District Elisha Lewanika has scooped the Pioneer best farmer of the Year award at the just ended conference.

This follows Mr Lewanika doubling of his maize yield from four tonnes per hectare to seven tonnes per hectare after switching to pioneer maize hybrid. He was given a fully sponsored trip to the US.

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