Diversify crop yields, Nawakwi urges farmers

FORUM for Democracy and Development (FDD) president Edith Nawakwi has called on farmers across the country to diversify and focus on growing crops that could be exported without much restriction. In an interview with the Daily Nation, Ms Nawakwi noted that most farmers across the country concentrated on maize farming and that it was the most exported crop by Zambian farmers. She, however, urged farmers to diversify and try out others such as grass farming which she said could be a good foreign currency earner if exported in large quantities. Ms Nawakwi warned that farmers would starve if they waited on Government to lift the ban it has imposed on maize export. She also, however, advised farmers to grow enough maize for local consumption but that they should concentrate on other produces for export. Ms Nawakwi condemned the move by Government to ban exporting of maize, explaining that farmers across the country would be in a crisis as they depended on it. “Farmers make some money to buy things like sugar, cooking oil, bread from exporting maize and other produces. Now with the ban, they will be in a food crisis and where will they run to. Farmers should diversify and focus on growing crops that are not on the black list. Grass, for example, can be a very good produce for export, whites in South Africa and other countries buy that to make hay for their animal,” she advised. And Ms Nawakwi bemoaned the high prices of farming inputs, adding that they were too expensive for local farmers. She noted that most small scale farmers were expanding their territories because they could not afford to buy seedlings and fertiliser in large quantities. Mr Nawakwi has since advised Government to ensure that prices for farming inputs were affordable to local farmers. She pointed out that reducing the prices for farming inputs would enable most small scale to grow their crops on a large scale. Ms Nawakwi also noted that most farmers in the country were growing imported seedlings, which she warned required huge quantities of fertiliser. “The prices for farming inputs are just too high for us, local farmers. They are too expensive. Government should find ways of seeing to it that these prices are reduced. That is the reason why most farmers are not transcending to become commercial farmers. Reducing the prices for farming inputs will enable most small scale to grow their crops on a large scale,” she advised.

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