The Zambia National Farmers Union says the country’s current 2015/2016 maize harvest is expected to be a third lower than the previous year due to severe drought in many parts of the country.
Zambia’s maize harvest dropped 22% to 2.6 million tonnes in the 2014/2015 season versus the previous season.ZNFU Spokesman Kingsley Kaswende said if the current weather pattern continues maize production may drop by 30 percent.
He said the country’s high production areas have not had enough rain.A further 30 per cent decline would imply 1.8 million tonnes of production of the country’s staple crop in 2016, the lowest for seven years.
“It’s still a bit too early to give precise figures for this year, but because of the severity of the situation we expect that reduction in yields could be as much as 30 per cent,” Mr Kaswende said.
“These are modest estimations. If the current weather pattern continues, we are likely to have a reduction well above 30 per cent.”
Meanwhile President Edgar Lungu has assured the nation that government has put in place measures to ensure that adequate maize stocks are secured to guarantee both household and national food security.
Speaking during a brief meeting with four traditional leaders who included Chiefs Choongo, Hamusonde, Chona and Monze in Monze district yesterday, President Lungu said government was ready to sacrifice resources of other economic demands to secure enough food stock for the country.
The president noted that the country still had enough maize stock to last up to June this year adding that the government was making frantic efforts to import more maize stocks in case of poor crop yields because of the poor rainfall patterns in most parts of the country experienced so far.
“ I want to assure the nation that my government is making all efforts to secure adequate maize stocks because the current stocks we have will be depleted by June this year,” said President Lungu.
“As government we are alive to the fact that we have poor rainfall patterns in some parts of the country but as Patriotic Front (PF) government we shall do whatever it takes, even sacrifice resources meant for economic growth to ensure that no Zambian starves to death as a result of hunger,” said Mr. Lungu.
He disclosed that government was committed to prudently use the available resources to buy maize stocks from South America as well as setting up solar milling plants across the country as soon as possible to make mealie meal prices affordable to all Zambians.
According to recent World Food Programme (WFP) study an estimated 14 million people risk facing serious hunger in Southern Africa following the effects of adverse climatic conditions during the last farming season.