AgricultureLocal News

Food security under threat

By GRACE CHAILE LESOETSA in Chipata
ZAMBIA’S food security is under threat as some farmers in Eastern Province are already selling their maize produce to unauthorised buyers.
Eastern Province Minister Makebi Zulu said Government had received reports of some farmers in Chipata, Chadiza and Vubwi who are selling maize to briefcase buyers even before the crop is harvested.
In an interview yesterday, Mr Zulu cautioned the farmers to stop the trend to avoid food insecurity and the escalation of mealie meal prices in the Province.
He said Government’s primary goal is to ensure that farmers have enough stock both for sale and home consumption to reduce poverty levels.
“Let me sound a warning to our hard-working farmers, do not throw away the support that Government is offering to you by selling everything that you harvest. It has come to our attention that farmers have already started selling off their crops while it is still in the field, thus giving briefcase buyers access to their fields. This is a sure recipe for hunger and has resulted into theft of crops from neighbouring farmers’ fields, this must come to a stop,” the Minister warned.
He said the selling of all produce by farmers to briefcase buyers defeats Government’s efforts of ensuring food security at household level through the farmer Input Support Programme (FISP).
He said it is was important that farmers kept enough stock for themselves and sell off what they can to earn an extra income.
He said farmers not selling off all their produce will lessen the burden on Government with the distribution of relief food.
“Last season we had issues with the distribution of relief food because most farmers sold off their maize due to the price of the commodity which went up to K200. This prompted farmers to sell off everything and had nothing to live on and that proved to be very expensive on the part of Government,” Mr Zulu said.
Mr Zulu said with the scarcity of maize, it means the price of mealie meal will be going up, not because there is no maize, but due to farmers selling off all their produce.
“So, our idea in this case, we are not only trying to avoid hunger at household level, but we are also trying to avoid the escalation of mealie meal prices,” he said.
Mr Zulu, however, said despite some parts of the Province experiencing floods, the area is expected to record a bumper harvest.
“Last year we had about 500,000 metric tonnes which is what we keep in our national reserves and but we anticipate that we should be able to produce above that this season,” he said.

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