Mupuseni — MWINILUNGA in North-Western Province risks losing its status as the main pineapple-producing district in Zambia because many growers are now shunning the growing of the fruit due to lack of market.
The farmers are now opting to grow maize which has a readily available market.
Mwinilunga has long been held as the pineapple growing district, but due to the market challenges farmers have been avoiding the fruit in recent years.
Some farmers said in separate interviews that they had opted to grow maize because of the ready market for the crop compared to pineapples.
Kelvin Sacheng'a of Kanyikezhi said most pineapple farmers in the area had switched to maize growing.
"Most farmers in the area have stopped growing pineapples due to market challenges. Like in my case, I used to grow more than two hectares of the fruit when the market was available but I have reduced to two acres," Mr Sacheng'a said.
Albert Kasongo of the same area appealed to investors to consider setting up a pineapple factory in Mwinilunga.
"We need a factory in the area which can provide a ready market for pineapples. The fruit is grown anywhere here but lack of proper market for it is leading to most of the growers to abandon the growing of pineapples," Mr Kasongo said.
Senior Chief Sailung'a said Mwinilunga District was destined to record a bumper maize harvest due to the fair rainfall recorded and the timely delivery of inputs to the area.
"We are going to have a bumper maize production; the rainfall has been good and the delivery of farming inputs was good because most of the farmers received inputs in good time," the traditional leader said.