KELLY NJOMBO, Lusaka
IN AN effort to promote diversification, Zambia has been urged to reform its market system to create a readily available market for other cash crops, which have potential to contribute to economic development and food security.
HIVOS Zambia, a Dutch development-based organisation suggests that the Food Reserve Agency (FRA) should free the market to allow private sector participation.
HIVOS Green Society project manager Wesley Wakun’uma said currently, the market, which is dominated by the FRA that mainly buys maize from small-scale farmers is affecting the production of potential cash crops such as millet, cassava and sorghum.
In an interview last week, Mr Wakun’uma said despite other crops having the potential to contribute to nutrition and food security in the country, production levels still remain low because most farmers concentrate on growing crops with a readily available market.
He has since urged Government to enact policies that will promote diversification to ensure the country is food and nutrition secure.
“Diversification is very key and is important for Zambia, but there certain things that must underpin this. Firstly, we need serious reforms in the market systems because right now, farmers only have one readily available market which is the FRA.
“Besides this, small-scale farmers have to negotiate with small private buyers, so we really need market reforms when it comes to buying of crops from farmers as this has huge impact of promoting diversification in the country,” he said.
Mr Wakun’uma also said that small-scale farmers need affordable financial systems to help them diversify.