FELIX NKINKE, Lusaka
ZAMBIA’s successive maize bumper harvests indicate that the country has found sustainable ways to deal with common challenges that small-scale farmers, who are the key players in the country’s crop production, face.
While in the past farming seasons the country has continued to record bumper harvests, the country is expected to record a historic maize bumper harvest in 26 years.
According to Ministry of Agriculture data, the country is next year projected to produce an estimated 3.4 million metric tonnes of maize, Zambia’s staple food. This is far higher than last season’s crop production which was just well over two million tonnes. With the total national human consumption estimated at 1.6 million metric tonnes, the country is in food surplus.
This year’s scenario replicates the previous maize production curve, thanks to the Farmer Input Support Programme (FISP).
While this has been happening, Government has continued to struggle with the price-dilemma where they would like maize producers to have a good price for their grain, while at the same time maintain low mealie-meal prices for the consumers. It’s always been a tight battle of choice and cut-throat decision for sector players.
However, despite the ingenuities that have emerged in an effort to strike a balance among the various key interest groups in the staple food production chain, Zambia’s maize crop yields have continued to be satisfactory even under unfriendly climate.
Many in Government have attributed the production increases to FISP as well as to the State’s efforts to help farmers get value for their money through the operations of Food Reserve Agency (FRA).
FISP was introduced in the 2009-2010 farming season. It was transformed from the Fertiliser Support Programme to the current programme where Government focuses on providing, not just fertiliser, but all agro inputs.
Under FISP, Government distributes subsidised agricultural farming inputs to small-scale farmers who have continued to dominate the CLICK TO READ MORE
FELIX NKINKE, Lusaka