MIKE MUGALA, Lusaka
OVER the years, the Zambia National Service (ZNS) has contributed greatly to food security through crop production and livestock.
Through mechanised commercial farming on all its farms across the country, ZNS has been growing maize, wheat and soya beans in its quest to promote Government’s quest for agricultural diversification.
A recent tour of three ZNS farms in Lusaka, Chisamba and Mkushi by a delegation from the Mozambique National Service revealed that there is a lot of agricultural and livestock production going on.
For instance, ZNS is expected to harvest over 93,000 bags, each 50 kilogrammes of maize from a total hectarage of 1,860 in all its farms across the country this year.
With a total hectarage of 865, the ZNS airport farm cultivated 250 hectares of maize which has since been harvested and undergoing shelling and bagging. Another 180 hectares of soya beans was cultivated from which a yield of 350 tonnes was harvested and sold.
At the same time, 180 hectares of wheat is currently in the field awaiting harvesting.
The farm has 14 pens with a holding capacity of 13, 250 layers, though at the moment there are only 8,714 chickens.
Airport farm commanding officer Lieutenant Colonel Japhen Mukanda says the farm has instituted an expansionary programme to boost crop production.
Lt Col Mukanda says the service plans to construct a 5,000 cubic metre dam for irrigation at the farm.
“The current capacity of the dam is a limiting factor and we will soon construct another dam and reservoirs along Ngwerere river,” he says.
In addition, the Chisamba ranch and livestock farm has a total hectarage of 1,231. The main activity of this farm is cattle ranching, with a holding capacity of 1,008 and 725 breeding stock.
The Chisamba farm has a dip tank of 14,000 litres and a grazing area of 1,171. The camp has 20, 240 chickens and 608 pigs.
Commanding officer for the Chisamba farm Lt Col Daniel Sikazwe says ZNS is targeting to increase beef and livestock production to increase the customer base.
“We want to surpass our current customer base through increased production so that we can attract the international market. We have also embarked on an infrastructure expansion programme,” he says.
Munsakamba crop farm in Mkushi is also mainly involved in the growing of maize, soya beans and wheat. It has a total hectorage of 340.
The farm produced 259.6 tonnes of soya beans this year from 180 hectares.
Here, the low yield was attributed to poor rainfall pattern.
Maize production is expected to be at 490 tonnes from a hectarage of 140 which was planted. The farm has also cultivated 220 hectares of wheat which is still in the field and yet to be harvested.
Commanding officer Lt Col Patrick Kalesu says the farm is also involved in machinery repair.
Lt Col Kalesu says most of the crops produced here are consumed by people in the catchment area.
“Apart from agricultural activities, personnel are also involved in military operations such as guarding of border areas,” he says.
And ZNS chief of production Colonel Maxwell Zulu says the service is in the process of expanding production in all its farms across the country.
Col Zulu says ZNS, with Government’s help, has procured 15 more centre pivots to enhance irrigation.
He says the visit by the Mozambique National Service will provide an opportunity for the service to strengthen crop production.
“Because of the changes in the rainfall pattern, we have to grow other high value foods crops such as wheat. The acquisition of the centre pivots will go a long way in scaling up the production of wheat,” Col Zulu.
He says the service is taking advantage on the ban on flour to boost wheat production to meet the demand of the local market.
Mozambique National Service commander, Major General Eugenio Mussa commended ZNS for the contribution it has made in promoting food security not only for Zambia but the region as well.
Major General Mussa observed that ZNS farms and the entire agricultural activities were well co-ordinated as a result of good organisation and proper management of its farms.
“We are happy with what we have seen in Zambia and would like to commend the Zambia National Service for the work it is doing. We came here so that we could learn how best our National Service can enhance crop and agricultural production,” he said.
Major General Mussa said the Mozambique National Service will apply the practical knowledge and experience gained from Zambia.
The Mozambique National Service delegation was in the country from July 23 to 28.
MIKE MUGALA, Lusaka