Consider ways to increase wheat output – NUSFAZ

THE National Union for Small-scale Farmers of Zambia (NUSFAZ) has called on Government and stakeholders in the agriculture sector to devise ways of increasing wheat production.
NUSFAZ director general Frank Kayula says that farmers need to be equipped with modern trends of farming, irrigation equipment and encourage crop diversification.
Last week, Zambia National farmers’ Union (ZNFU) opposed Government’s intention to allow the importation of 75,000 metric tonnes of wheat because the country has sufficient stocks and that this would cost the country almost US$40 million.
But Mr Kayula said in an interview on Monday that it is true the country does not have enough wheat stock hence the need to allow the importation of wheat to cushion the market.
“We have found ourselves in very unfortunate circumstances…Yes, we do not have enough stocks and if you [the county don’t have then you don’t have. There is nothing we can do rather than import [for now]. We sympathise with the state…The importation will cushion the prices of wheat products,” he said.
Mr Kayula said the importation of wheat should only be an interim measure to enable Government and stakeholders to come up with solutions to increase output.
According to ZNFU data as at October last year, Zambia harvested 338,233 tonnes of wheat against national consumption requirements of 310,000 tonnes annually.
“Government should, however, not over-import. They should just get the required amounts…Farmers should reduce the over reliance on rain-fed agriculture”, Mr Kayula said.
He said the small-scale farmers in the country have a capacity to produce high yields but have been let down by factors like poor rainfall pattern in the previous rainy season.
He said peasant farmers need to complement commercial counterparts’ efforts in providing food security.
“We do not have enough wheat today [presently] because we have not had sufficient rains and the dams have not been filled to the desired capacity,” he said.

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