VIOLET MENGO, Petauke
OPPOSITION Forum for Democracy and Development (FDD) president Edith Nawakwi says agriculture in Zambia needs mechanisation for it to make meaningful impact on the lives of farmers.
Speaking when she toured some farms in Petauke district during her campaigns, Ms Nawakwi bemoaned that 50 years after independence, farmers were still using traditional ways of farming when other countries are modernising farming with advanced technologies.
She said it is a pity that some farmers are still exposed to putting fertiliser on a 10-hectare farm using hands when they can use simple machines that can do the work within a short space of time.
â€œWe can still improve our agricultural activities through mechanisation. With mechanisation comes agro processing leading the country to increasing its income per capita,â€ Ms Nawakwi said.
She said the old ways of agricultural production tie farmers to producing one type of crop when they can do a variety of farming using modern technology.
Ms Nawakwi said archaic ways of farming have continued to leave farmers in perpetual bondage and that the only way the country can break the backbone of poverty is by realising that the kind of resources and resilience that subsistence farmers have needs to be tapped, developed, nurtured and enhanced.
â€œAgriculture is the cornerstone of the economy, we need to help farmers come out of poverty,â€ Ms Nawakwi said.
One of the farms visited by Ms Nawakwi is headed by a woman who has been able to send her children to school through agricultural activities. She commended her for her hard work despite the challenges she faces.
â€œAs we have seen from the woman who has trained her children by engaging in agriculture, she had proved that she is a hard worker,â€ she said.
She said there should be ways of uplifting women and farmers in general to a level where they are able to live meaningful and fulfilled lives.
â€œWhat the Patriotic Front have done is destroy the spirit of a Zambian farmer by not paying them promptly for the maize delivered,â€ she said.
She said when farmers grow more maize, it enhances performance in terms of micro-economic indicators and this she said has to start from the field where food is produced from.
â€œWhen farmers grow maize, those in need should collect it from the farmerâ€™s field and pay at the point of collection,â€ she said.
VIOLET MENGO, Petauke