Dora Siliya has made Zambia to likely import maize for the first time in ten years-ZNFU
THE Zambia National Farmers Union has warned that Zambia may start importing maize in the next 18-20 months if the agriculture sector is not revived.
And ZNFU has accused the Minister of Agriculture, Dora Siliya of working against the farmers and has advised government to apologise for the lost opportunity this farming season owing to delayed distribution of inputs under the E-voucher system.
The farmers’ body has further called for immediate reorganisation of the agriculture sector through what its president Jervis Zimba has called a marshal plan.
In an interview, ZNFU should review the agriculture sector, which is the country’s second economic mainstay, Zimba said the current happenings in the industry could lead Zambia into relying on maize imports for its food needs in the next few months.
He has since warned the Food Reserve Agency not to offload any of its strategic maize reserves to the millers, whom he said had already made requests for the commodity.
“The least we can do now is advise FRA not to offload maize to the millers. I am aware that there are millers who have started requesting for maize from FRA. But FRA should keep this maize until May when we know what the crop forecast will be. If they don’t heed this advice and start giving millers earlier than May, it means we are headed for disaster. At the rate we are going, between 18 and 20 months, we will start seeing imports of maize coming into the country,” Zimba warned.
He further accused the Ministry of Agriculture of being anti-farmers by not listening to the advice of the union on many issues that affect the sector.
“The whole agriculture system in 2017 has been a flop. The E-voucher was piloted under ZNFU. Now it was taken away from ZNFU but that was a dangerous move. That was mistake number one. Right now, we don’t see them finishing distributing [inputs] by January 1, and farmers will be left out. They should just apologise about it – the E-voucher system is lost. 2017 will go down in history as a year when agriculture was totally mismanaged because of lack of heeding advice from the experts.”
“The ministry was not heeding the advice of the experts. We were not pulling in the same direction; the ministry was also pulling in its own direction. Any government that does not listen to ZNFU, this is always the result – it is always a disaster,”