By MAIMBO MWEEMBA
The Zambia National Farmers Union (ZNFU) has congratulated the farmers countrywide for attaining a national yield of 3,620,244 metric tons of maize.
ZNFU is also pleased with 411,115 metric tons of soya beans produced this season.
ZNFU President Jervis Zimba said this is an indication that farmers have now embraced soya beans as a commercial crop and a key crop in the diversification agenda.
Mr Zimba said in the previous season the country recorded 3.4 million metric tonnes of maize and 296,686 metric tonnes for soya beans.
“The good news is that soya beans support poultry production, edible oil production and there is demand for it in the export market, in general, from the fifteen commodities reported through the crop forecast only five commodities recorded a decline in production. Therefore, overall trends of the crop forecast revealed progress as production went up for most commodities but also there was an increase in area under cultivation which demonstrates that there is an increased uptake in crop farming in the country generally,” he said.
“Having attained such milestones, our take is that the progress we have made must be sustained. One cardinal factor towards safeguarding future production is by ensuring that the right market incentives are in place to guarantee farmers get fair prices that will enable them to participate in the next farming season,” he said.
Mr Zimba said that to most farmers in the union, the progress achieved on maize production is not surprising because it is well-documented and a known fact that Zambia should be the hub of grain production in the region.
“This is because the soils are well suited and the yields capable of being attained in this country are next to none. Recently in Mpika at the National field Day a small-scale farmer was harvesting at 7 metric ton per hectare and in other areas like Mpongwe, yields as high as 9.5 metric tons per hectare have been recorded,” he said
“We followed with keen interest the statement by the Minister of Agriculture on the Crop Forecast for the 2020/2021 marketing season, especially to determine the marketing aspects for the announced huge crop. On exports, it was highlighted that the country has attained a maize surplus and exports will not be denied but will be through the millers who will in turn create a market for farmers, then 80,000 metric tonnes of the grain will be exported through the World Food Programme and arrangements will be put in place for the early maize which will be grown next season for export,” he said
Mr Zimba stated the union’s instant take on the marketing strategy is that the country will not tap into the regional markets in an optimal way because it will not be sending a signal that Zambia is open for maize export business and we cannot understand why. Zambia should be alive to the fact that the region has had a good crop overall and the country has a huge surplus of 1.5 million tonnes.
ZNFU has since appealed to the Government to address this anomaly with urgency because the country should be engaging in a massive export drive to sell the surplus immediately.
“This should include inviting the Democratic Republic of Congo to come and source their 600,000 metric tonnes of maize and mealie meal officially as agreed under the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed between Zambia and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Such an announcement would end the smuggling immediately,” he said