Kalomo Central Member of Parliament Request Muntanga showing reporters his 20-hectre maize field yesterday
Kalomo Central Member of Parliament Request Muntanga has taken a swipe at Agriculture Minister Bob Sichinga for alleging that maize has not germinated in Kalomo, describing him as a danger to agriculture in Zambia.
On Sunday evening, Mr Sichinga told the nation that Mr Muntanga was lying that maize had germinated. Sichinga told National Agriculture and Information Services (NAIS) reporters to film grass near Sievu farm around Mukwela along the Great North road to show that there is no maize.
This prompted Mr Muntanga to take reporters for a field trip starting with his farm and many other farms where the maize is knee-high yesterday.
Mr Muntanga crisscrossed the farms with the reporters the whole day showing them hectres of maize field which already need basal fertiliser. At his farm alone, about 20 hetcres of maize is knee-high and has since been fertilised.
Mr Muntanga says it is sad that Zambia has a minister who cannot differentiate between maize and grass and worse still order reporters to take footage on private land without permission.
He says Sichinga should have visited him at his farm and asked him where the maize was, and that he would have gladly led him even to far flung areas away from town to see for himself.
He also said even at Sievu farm, he should have asked the manager where they had planted because there is no sane farmer who would plant maize by the roadside if they have plenty of land like Mr Sievu.
“You have a minister who asks the reporters where the maize is as though that is their farm. Why not asking the owner of the farm? How can reporters be ordered to film grass simply because he wants to discredit me for telling him to distribute fertiliser in good?” Muntanga wondered.
“The ministry of agriculture is under siege with this kind of a person at the held… honestry, how can a minister go to a shed and ask where the growing maize is?”
Mr. Muntanga had earlier called Mr Sichinga before the tour of the fields in the presence of the reporters from the three media houses but went unanswered.
Mr Muntanga has observed that arrogance will not take Mr Sichinga anywhere and that he should learn to swallow his pride and engage stakeholders to help where necessary.
“I do not have any grudge against Sichinga, but I have a problem with people who want to play around with agriculture because that is my turf. Iam an Agriculture expert and my life is all about agriculture and when I tell Sichinga that things should be done properly, it is not personal.
When I say fertiliser distribution has delayed, I know it,” he said.
He says if agriculture is to perform better, President Michael Sata must fire Mr Sichinga because he has failed the famers by failing to plan well for inputs delivery.
And a spot-check at one of the farms reviewed that the crop was beyond the stage for basal fertiliser application and the farmer has failed to find alternative sources of acquiring the commodity.