By ALICE NACHILEMBE
The Zambia National Farmers’ Union (ZNFU) is dismayed with the stance taken by the Ministry of Agriculture to ignore farmers and rush into a decision to import wheat.
ZNFU president Jervis Zimba said the country has been producing adequate wheat stocks for national consumption.
Mr Zimba said the reality is that Zambia is self-sufficient in terms of wheat production except for the fact that exports of value-added products are encouraged to service certain regional niche markets.
“ZNFU is dismayed that at a hastily organized meeting held at the Ministry of Agriculture (MoA) and with no physical verification of stocks, a decision was made to allow importation of 125,000 MT of wheat while the private sector led industry consultation process has been circumvented,” he said.
He said the action by the Ministry will not grow jobs in the country hence appeal to Government to let the wheat industry stakeholders deliberate and determine if at all there is any grounds to turn to imports.
“As a Union we embrace engagement with Government, but we will not support heavy handed approaches being orchestrated by the MoA under the guise of a stock monitoring committee decision when the committee leaves out key stakeholders. Whose benefit is being served at the end of the day, we ask? We challenge the Permanent Secretary at the MoA to respond to the letters from the Union where we have stated categorically that the stock monitoring committee should be re-constituted with a focus on its intended objectives and not serving interests of a selected few. All our letters have gone unanswered, and we demand responses immediately,” he said.