Dr Frank Kayula, president of the National Union for Small scale farmers of Zambia (Nusfaz), is committed to advancing the future of small scale farmers in his country. Dr Kayula, a crop scientist who lectures at the University of Lusaka, says agriculture needs entrepreneurs who know how to farm and are prepared to take risks and become employers, rather than enter the market as employees.
Lusaka-based Nusfaz is funded by only about 1 000 of its 64 000 member small scale farmers, since most of them are unable to pay the K50 annual membership fee.
Kayula says that small scale farmers have been negatively affected by the drying up of funds after the ZNFU affair earlier this year. “The trickle-down effect, small as it was, was beneficial to small holders,” says Kayula.
Fraud at the ZNFU level and the consequent funding flatline has punished the small scale farmers, he explains. The ZNFU staffing levels are down and there is no mechanism to facilitate distribution of essential agricultural inputs.
“Inputs actually reached the district depots well on time this season, but can’t be distributed to the farmers without transport.”
The rains have now begun in Zambia and small scale farmers have not started planting because they do not have access to basic inputs like seed and fertiliser, partly subsidised by the state and partly by funders.
Dr Kayula’s agenda is to push agriculture as a driver of development in Zambia because it has a critical ability to grow the economy. Once agriculture has grown the economy, secondary agri-industries can take over, he says.
“My context for industrialisation in agriculture is the ability of this country to process what it produces, within not only the country but within the region.”
Using maize as an example, he describes the double costing effect of growing the commodity, transporting it out of the area for milling, then
shipping it back into the production zone in the processed form of bread.
“We need to process in country, instead of sending maize into the DRC, we should send mealie meal.”
Africans must work as a team to grow competitive advantages on the continent.
“If we keep competing between one another we probably will never realise our potential. We need to change and integrate our economies. A billion people in Africa by (2050) is a huge market and its ours.”