Stakeholders at a recent meeting in the rice industry identified several obstacles that still hampered Zambian rice production and exports. Limited access to good quality and a variety of seed was the main concern. Other problems were market access and low levels of mechanisation along the whole value chain.
Rice was identified as a priority diversification crop. The idea is to move away from the domination of maize in Zambia. The recommendation was made by the previous Agriculture Minister, Given Lubinda, in the Second National Rice Development Strategy, released in July.
“It is anticipated that crop diversification through rice production will contribute tremendously to enhancing the living standards of farm households,” the report said.
RICE DIVERSIFICATION PLAN
According to the latest Zambian National Farmers Union Friday Brief, demand for rice was increasing nationally as well as internationally. The Brief also said the crop was suited to Zambia.
The union said that Zambia had plenty of land suitable for rice cultivation. It also had “lower input costs than other crops such as maize.”
But, there were many obstacles: “Farmers indicated that the markets were disorganised, fragmented and lacked proper storage facilities.”
The meeting put forward several proposed solutions. This included more investment into seed research, access to finance for mechanisation and the development of an organised market system.