Government stands to blame for the looming hunger in Zambia because of its criminal negligence in the manner it has handled the maize marketing programme, says former Deputy High Commissioner to India Andrew Banda
Mr Banda said there was no need for Zambians to experience hunger when the country has enjoyed consecutive bumper harvests in the previous farming seasons.
“Why are all these foreign trucks taking maize out of the country when there is a hunger situation looming? This is our country, we must ensure our leaders are held responsible for the poor mismanagement of maize especially when there is a looming food crisis,” he said.
Mr Banda said that since the PF takeover of government, there have been maize marketing problems starting from the farming inputs distribution which left some farmers without seeds and fertiliser.
He said the decision to change distributors in the inputs distribution has affected maize management because the previous companies had grown to understand the challenges and layouts of the various locations in the country’s rural areas.
“And by the time government begins damage control it will be five years down the line. We can’t afford to engage new distributors in the Farmers Input Support Project (FSIP) because they will not understand the terrain and other factors involved in the processes of distribution which will further affect the general agricultural output in the long run,” Mr Banda said.
He said government has continued to export maize despite the soaring mealie meal prices owing to the diminished quantities of the commodity in national reservoirs managed by the Food Reserve Agency (FRA).
“I am calling for urgent reforms in the current maize marketing programme especially the immediate cancellation of maize exports to help curb the high rise in mealie meal prices” he said.
And Mr Banda has challenged ZESCO managing director Cyprian Chitundu to explain to the nation the worsening load shedding situation despite the presidential directive to immediately stop it.
Mr Banda said the PF government in its campaign promises pledged to improve the power supply situation around the country but that electricity outages have now worsened.