Agriculture and Cooperatives Minister Brian Chituwo says preliminary data collected by the Central Statistics Office (CSO) has indicated that the country would have good maize yields this year despite some areas having been hard hit by the floods.
Dr Chituwo told ZANIS in an interview yesterday that the ministry had put in place interventions that will enable the country be food secure in the 2009-2010 season.
Dr Chituwo said government had in this year’s budget set aside K54 billion for water resource development which would promote irrigation of crops among other things.
He said out of the K54 billion, K49 billion was meant for investment to 13 small-scale holder irrigation schemes across the country while K300 million would be rural investment fund.
Dr Chituwo said the ministry would also maximize the tradition of early planting of maize by making available the early maturity maize seed to the farmers, adding that early harvest would contribute to the country’s food security.
He added the ministry would also see to it that extension officers are stationed in districts that had vacancies so that they may teach the farming communities methods that would promote crop production.
Dr Chituwo further said the ministry would also this year ensure that farming inputs are distributed on time as well as improve efficiency in the Fertilizer Support Programme (FSP).
The ministry would also promote diversification from maize to crops such as rice and cassava so as to supplement the country’s food reserves.
Dr Chituwo said a programme in Mansa had already been initiated aimed at promoting the growing of cassava which he said did not require fertilizer to grow while rice-growing would be encouraged in Mongu, Chama and Lukulu.