The good rains that fell over large parts of Zambia over the weekend merely deepened the concern over delayed delivery of farm inputs by government in most parts of the nation.
Chiefs nationwide also voiced their concern and the Minister of Agriculture – Dora Siliya – yesterday told the media that she will issue a statement on Tuesday (29/11) on the distribution process.
Various irate farmers interviewed in Kafue district, 50 kilometres south of the capital Lusaka, complained that with the onset of the rains they had in desperation resorted to planting low-yielding traditional maize varieties.
“We were promised farming inputs before the onset of the rains, but the rains have now started, and we don’t have the seeds and fertilizer,” said Moses Mwale, a local farmer.
Other farmers feared that the delay would have a negative effect on their livelihood as they solely depended on growing rain-fed maize.
“Going by our experience in the last few years, the rains could stop early leaving us with a poor harvest,” said Mirriam Nyambe, a subsistence farmer.
Traditional leaders have also made their voices heard on the delays by government to roll out the ZMW400 million (US$40 million) of the Farmer Inputs Support Programme (FISP) using the e-voucher payment systems.
House of Chiefs Chairperson – Chief Ntambu of the Lunda in the North Western Province – called on government to expedite the distribution of farming inputs to avoid a food crisis.
“The rains have started and most of the farmers are still waiting for inputs to start planting,” he said.
According to Chief Ntambu, the delay would greatly affect farmers due to the changing pattern that the country had experienced lately.
Government’s target for the 2016/2017 farming season is to reach 1.6 million small-scale farmers across the country.