”Walk the budget talk’-Farmers cry
Farmers and other interest groups in the Zambian agricultural sector, aware of the effects of climate change and other crises affecting the global food system, want to partner with the government next season to reverse the recurrent and “stunted” productivity of the agricultural production and ensure planned policies are implemented and meet local and export market demands.
The country’s leading agricultural group, ZNFU and Corteva Agriscience, a US-based consulting firm, offer farmers across the country a comprehensive and diverse portfolio, ranging from crop protection to fungicides, herbicides, insecticides and seed treatments that protect against weeds, diseases and insects, says more should be done to reverse the challenges affecting food sufficiency.
The advisory group believes that Zambia’s failure to achieve food security over the years and become Africa’s food basket was a “serious oversight” that can be corrected if policy and actualization are in tandem during budget formulation and execution, combined with advice on national food security issues. annually.
Samson Nyendwa, Corteva Agriscience’s country representative in Zambia, notes that Zambia’s productivity potential has been underestimated despite the country’s unrelenting climatic conditions for growing maize with potential yields that can equal yields achievable anywhere. in the world.
Unfortunately, Zambia’s national average yield is only 2 million tonnes/ha, but the potential of hybrid maize seed varieties released by seed companies and certified by the control and certification institute seed (SCCI) has a much higher yield potential.
If the crop forecast for the 2021/2022 agricultural season, which showed that 1,507,441 ha of maize area had been planted with an expected production of 2,706,243 tonnes at an average yield of 1,795 tonnes/ha, Zambia would achieve enough its food balance sheet if productivity were increased to the bare minimum. average hybrid potential of 6mt/ha. The country’s production on the same area of maize planted would, if exploited, be 9,044,646 tons and would enable Zambia to export enormously.
Addressing a meeting of farmers on the topic: “Boosting a resilient agricultural sector » Mr Nyendwa argued that Zambia’s food potential is underutilized despite competing challenges.
It urges the government to come up with achievable, sustainable and sustainable initiatives to improve food productivity, with the goodwill of donors and Corteva Agriscience, among other actors providing advice on best practices.
While welcoming the review proposed by Zambia and the replacement of the Fertilizer Input Support Program (FISP) with the Comprehensive Agriculture Support Program (CASP), there is a need to adapt new technological advances, including the much-vaunted Total Food Productivity (TFP) to lead and ensure productivity is determined and encourages farmers towards sustainability and security of tenure on investment.
“To actualize the benefits of huge public investments in well-intentioned ASP, it is necessary to adopt one of the most informative measures of agricultural productivity, total factor productivity (TFP) to be conducted alongside crop forecasts. .
This will help determine if total output is increasing relative to total inputs. Improving agricultural productivity is the main driver of agricultural growth that will translate into national food security and economic development.
The commitment of all actors driven by the political will of government, if effectively coordinated, can be a game-changer for Zambia to achieve global status as one of the leading maize producers and exporters.
This will, however, require the country to apply mandatory ecological requirements if it applies, among other initiatives, the development and adoption of technologies (variety of hybrid seeds – Shanga Ubone, consistent and predictable government policies and the support and availability of affordable credit and mechanization.
Securing reliable and profitable markets, implementing performance-based agricultural extension services, educating farmers and adopting best agricultural practices in an ever-changing climate are also driving the growth of the sector. .
A mentality of accelerated agricultural productivity growth at all levels of production is undoubtedly the best option for the sustainably growing Zambian agricultural sector in which, without productivity growth, farmers would not prosper and economic development, security national food supply and the general well-being of citizens would be affected.
The company wants the government to apply new technological and innovative agricultural technologies and improved farming practices, to stimulate productivity growth at all scales of production, small, medium or large. adoption of total factor productivity (TFP) will boost productivity growth.
Farmers Group-ZNFU President Jervis Zimba is optimistic about the government’s indication to review low productivity by directing resources to extension services, addressing issues affecting animal production including legislation, d increase the financial allocation to the FISP.
Funding for public order and security against cattle rustling as budgeted for next year should be updated to serve as security of tenure for farmers’ investments in the sector.
Zimba remains optimistic that the selected tax incentives proposed for the sector, including on milk cans, machinery, game breeding animals, biological control agents, vegetable seedling growing media and vegetable seedlings. tree crops selected, will be updated so that the actors are motivated.
The ZNFU is concerned about the recurring climatic factors that may affect the crops that may be grown in the 2022/23 season and if a variety of crops were to be grown depending on weather conditions, the crop marketing policies would be sensitive to the likelihood of an increase in their costs to make returns on investment as they will be carried out outside of the existing FISP.
“Farmers are really at a crossroads when it comes to what to grow in the 2022/23 season. What happened in the marketing of soybeans this year where a unilateral decision was made by the ministry discouraged the participation of many buyers in the marketing of soybeans is lamentable. Mr Zimba argued that the decision cost revenue to most farmers who had sought to export for real income.
However, President Hakainde Hichilema admitted that there had been some failures in the administration of the sector over the past few years, but pledged to streamline all the bureaucratic shortcomings that have overshadowed the sector, sparking fear of the hunger.
He notes that Zambia’s complacency in exploiting export markets has forced Namibia, among other neighbors, to import wheat from Ukraine, hence the need to support productivity growth. Namibia, Kenya, Rwanda, Qatar and the Democratic Republic of Congo among several countries.
The President, noting Zambia’s potential to help others achieve food security, says most of them are now asking Zambia to provide food varieties. The funds to be generated would benefit local farmers, hence the call to work together and identify the dangers in the way of the growth of the agricultural sector.
“We are determined to break down any barrier, whether human, technical or man-made to ensure we unlock agricultural potential, but we must work together to identify the rigidities that inhibit us, for example, why are we not providing wheat to Namibia which is importing the same thing from Ukraine? This is unacceptable – I know some people will be hurt, but we have to move on because this is what we were elected to do,” said said President Hichilema when he honored the 116e Farmers’ Congress.