Support small-scale farmers with new technologies – CTPD

CENTRE for Trade Policy and Development (CTPD) executive director Isabel Mukelabai says Zambian small-scale farmers should be supported with new technologies to improve maize yields.
Releasing a report titled “Zambia’s regional competitiveness in maize production and marketing,” Ms Mukelabai said smallholder farmers are uncompetitive in producing maize due to low yields resulting in high cost of production.
She said commercial farmers are more competitive in maize production due to high yields.
“Since most of the maize is produced by small-scale farmers this means that Zambia is not highly competitive as a producer and exporter of maize to the region, despite surplus production,” Ms Mukelabai said.
She advised Government to consider strengthening the agricultural extension services for small-scale farmers by increasing operational funding for the extension department.
“This will enable extension officers, to carry out their work and increase the focus of extension work to enable farmers increase their productivity through crop improvement management practices,” Ms Mukelabai said.
However, Ms Mukelabai said across the maize value chain, there are a number of incremental costs that further reduce margins.
“Statutory requirements for maize exporters are a major factor affecting export competitiveness mostly because of the centralised nature of issuance of the various permits in Lusaka and the multiplicity of government agencies issuing certificates,” she said.
Ms Mukelabai said export opportunities facilitated by the government including government-to-government agreements and relief maize exports should be handled by the private grain traders.
“This will help build a vibrant private sector. The government should discuss with its DRC counterparts so that the double border crossing fee is waived,” she said.

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