RUKWA region has issued its food assessment report, which shows that harvest has plummeted to 513,236 tonnes of food crops.
The downward trend, according to them, is attributed to various reasons, including invasion of Fall Army Worms (FAW) during 2018 /19 farming season.
Other factors which have caused the harvest of food crop to drop are long dry spells experienced in several parts in Nkasi district and the use of traditional maize seeds by farmers instead of using improved ones.
However, Rukwa Regional Commissioner (RC), Mr Joachim Wangabo allayed fears to regional residents, saying despite the plummeting of food crops by 513,236 tonnes, the region is food sufficient.
Mr Wangabo made such revelation during a press briefing held in his office here in the municipality yesterday (Tuesday) "During the 2018/19 farming season, the region projected to realize 1,677,474.8 tonnes of food crops, but the evaluation carried out shows that farmers have realized 1,164,242.42 tonnes, equivalent to 69 per cent of the target," said the RC.
Speaking of bad weather, the RC explained further that areas along the Lake Rukwa Valley in Sumbawanga District, famous for rice cultivation, experienced rain below average and long dry spells, causing poor harvest of rice.
"Either period of drought was experienced in March this year, which contributed for production of food crops particularly at several wards in Nkasi district. Also, most farmers in the region did not apply fertilizers and they planted traditional seeds instead of using modern maize seeds "added the RC.
The RC further said that farmers failed to purchase fertilizers and modern maize seeds due to absence of reliable markets and competitive prices, as they were compelled to sell a bag of maize weighing100 kilogrammes at a throw away price of between 15,000/= and 18,000/=.
"Some farmers managed to purchase fertilizers, but they applied a bag of fertilizer on two acres of farm land instead of one acre as per scientific instructions," noted Mr Wangabo.
Mr Wangabo said that maize purchasing season officially started on July 22 and that the National Food Reserve Agency (NFRA), Sumbawanga Zone is purchasing maize at 500/- per kilo.
"I encourage farmers with surplus maize to make use of this opportunity by selling maize to NFRA instead of selling to middle men at a throw away prices.
I also urge NFRA - Sumbawanga Zone to give first priority to small scale farmers instead of major farmers who can scout for competitive markets for themselves," he emphasized.
On prospect of food security in 2019/20 season, Mr Wangabo said despite the challenges during this season, harvest qualitative information shows that farmers in the region will realize bumper surplus of food crops.
"The latest qualitative information shows that farmers in the region are expected to harvest 884,368.68 tonnes of food crop, out of which 607,718.8 tonnes is cereals and non -cereal crops is 276,649.9 tonnes," noted the RC.