arable land

Massive arable land for Zambian smallholder farmers lying idle

Lack of infrastructure and amenities is forcing thousands of Zambian smallholder farmers to shun massive farming blocks of arable land allocated to them by government.

Sources told a mere 200 000 ha of the 1 million hectares allocated for farming blocks, are being utilised. “Government has allocated 100 000 hectares per province, but only one or two are in use while others remain dormant because there is no water, electricity or other amenities,” said one source.

Another said a lack of information and transparency in the allocation of plots in government-designated farming blocks also contribute to low utilisation. “The information flow on how smallholder farmers can access these massive tracks of land is very poor and in certain cases the process is quite blurry,” the source said.

Agriculture Minister Dora Siliya recently said government is working on a plan to jump-start farming blocks in all provinces. She said a programme to electrify the farming blocks has already started, with plans like designing a model town which can be replicated in all provinces.

In addition, her ministry is working on strengthening extension services to ensure that farmers who move into the farming blocks have access to information and training. “We are working on optimising the performance of these farming blocks so that farming is not relegated to the rainy season,” Siliya said.

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