TWO small-scale farmer representative organisations have called for stronger collaboration with the Government to help address challenges facing growers in the 2017/18 farming season.
The National Union of Small Scale Farmers of Zambia (NUSSFZ) and Small Scale Farmers Development Association of Zambia (SAFADA) said that stronger cooperation was crucial to resolve challenges like late farming input distribution and the army worm invasion.
NUSSFZ's president Frank Kayula said there was a need for concerted efforts in generating solutions to the annual issues that negatively affected farmers, stating that this was crucial in developing a thriving agriculture sector.
"As stakeholders we need to work together so that we can plan how we can help our farmers so that despite the current problems, the country can realise a good harvest to avert a food shortage," Dr Kayula said.
Dr Kayula said NUSSFZ had undertaken farmers' inspection in selected parts of Southern and Central provinces where the situation was a matter of concern due to late delivery of farming inputs, the army worm invasion and poor rainfall this year.
He said despite Government assurances, some farmers who had e-voucher cards could still not access inputs and this called for the need to revisit the system to ensure efficiency in future.
SAFADA president Boyd Moobwe said farmer organisations could not afford to work in isolation if Zambia was to improve its crop marketing.
Mr Moobwe said farmers in some parts of Eastern Province were still waiting to access farming inputs, and that this should be addressed in time to avert poor yields.
Agriculture Minister Dora Siliya on Monday assured the nation that the Government was working to resolve bottlenecks surrounding the farmer input distribution under the e-voucher system, as she announced that 846,000 of the targeted one million had be cleared and could access the inputs.