Business

Crop output to increase

ESTHER MSETEKA, Lusaka
GOVERNMENT says despite Zambia experiencing erratic rains, the country is expected to record a rise in crop production, with sweet potatoes increasing from about 104,000 metric tonnes in the 2014/15 farming season to about 232,000 tonnes in 2015/16.
This represents a 95.96 percent growth in sweet potatoes output.
Other crops expected to record high yields include sorghum, rice, soya beans, sunflower and cowpeas.
Sorghum production is also expected to increase by 73.66 percent to 14,107 metric tonnes from 8,123 tonnes due to the attractive price that processing companies are offering on the market.
Minister of Agriculture Given Lubinda attributed the increase in yields to the relatively good distribution of rainfall between January and early April which resulted in improved planting of other crops that were cultivated after maize.
Mr Lubinda said last week at a press briefing on the crop forecasting survey for the 2015/16 agricultural season and the food balance status for the 2016/17 marketing season.
He cited seed distribution by Government through the Farmer Input Support Programme, and the recently launched e-voucher system, as some of the factors that led to improved crop production management practices.
“The yield rate for many crops has increased in the 2015/16 season compared to last season. The general increase is mainly due to the adoption of conservation farming practices by our farmers which had a positive impact on productivity.”
“The resilience and hard work of our farmers, despite challenging weather conditions, coupled with the timely delivery of inputs by Government in the 2015/16 season, has enabled our farmers to have a positive impact on production,” Mr Lubinda said.
During the period under review, he said the usage of fertiliser on maize by farmers decreased by 22.5 percent in 2015/16 compared to last season, while the percentage of farmers using fertiliser and hybrid seed increased in part due to the increase in the quantity of fertiliser.

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