25 December 2012

Zambia: State Starts Maize Assessment Exercise

THE Government has commenced the maize assessment exercise throughout all provinces to determine the grain stocks currently available in the country.

Agriculture Minister Emmanuel Chenda said the Government would take stock of maize in all the provinces to determine the actual figures.

He said his ministry had concluded stocktaking in Western province, with maize stocks at 13,000 tonnes.

"As you are aware, we had an outbreak of the Army worm and food security obviously has been threatened and now as Government we are going round the provinces to check the maize available in each province in order to maintain food security.

We are glad to announce that we have finished stocktaking in Western province and the maize available there is 13,000 tonnes and we shall be moving to other provinces to do the same," Mr Chenda said.

Commenting on the Farmer's Input Support Programme (FISP), the minister said the farmers in Kaoma had started accessing the inputs saying the problems of non accessibility of inputs in the district had been resolved.

He observed that Kaoma had the largest production of maize accounting for 75 per cent of the total maize production in Zambia hence the need for the Government to provide the inputs to the farmers on time.

Meanwhile, the Zambia National Farmers Union (ZNFU) president Jervis Zimba said the agriculture sector performed very well in the 2012 harvest, due to the conducive policies, sustainable input support programme which safeguarded food security.

Mr Zimba said surplus production was achieved in key commodities such as maize, soya beans and wheat.

Other export crops such as tobacco and cotton also performed well although cotton was marred by poor marketing due to disagreement on producer prices, a factor which could affect further growth in production.

Mr Zimba said in a statement issued in Lusaka that with regard to maize, there were hiccups in terms of the availability of mealie meal especially in the urban areas.

"The country has adequate soya beans and wheat and efforts are now on value addition to these products and the surplus is destined for export markets. With such scores of success, there is ample reason for being optimistic to extend these success to other commodities particularly livestock," he said.

Mr Zimba said the agriculture sector had been identified as one of the economic sectors for delivering economic growth and employment creation adding that the union remains engaged with the Government.

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