Farmers have been advised to practise crop diversification which is key to reducing poverty in the country, according to Christians Against Poverty in Zambia (CAPIZ) president Gregory Chileshe.
Mr Chileshe said farmers should invest in other ventures apart from concentrating on maize production which was not sustainable or reliable in case of adverse weather patterns.
He said some crops such as cassava were resistant to drought and could be planted and relied on.
Mr Chileshe explained that farmers should be encouraged to grow different types of crops such as sorghum, millet and cassava, adding that engaging in various types of farming would improve the livelihood of the majority who depended on farming.
He said apart from cropping, fish farming, animal rearing and poultry production was vital to boost the economy, and that depending on maize production alone was costly. That was why it was prudent to diversify agriculture.
“Agriculture in Zambia is mainly limited to maize production, when there are other crops that could be grown in the absence of maize, especially with poor agriculture policy that we are experiencing,” he said.
Mr Chileshe said Zambians must brace for a hike in the price of mealie meal due to a poor harvest as a result of late delivery of farming inputs. That was why farmers should diversify and ensure other crops were grown to counter such challenges.
He said one way to ensure food security was to deliver farming inputs early to give ample time for farmers to prepare adequately.
Government must deliver farming inputs on time if agriculture were to make an impact on the economy.
Mr Chileshe said Zambians expected to see change on late delivery of farming inputs to farmers, to avert hunger.
“Farmers feed the nation and so this must be first priority of Government to ensure that all the necessities are in place if farming is to be beneficial to every farmer,” he said.
“We want hunger to be eradicated by seriously investing in agriculture. If we can export maize to feed other countries, what can make us remain hungry because of the high cost of mealie meal?” he said.
Mr Chileshe said that Government must participate in farming to compete with the private sector and make agricultural products cheaper.