The ruling PF has launched a sensational attack on some Chiefs from the Southern Province over reports that they are discouraging farmers in their areas from planting Maize.
PF Deputy Spokesperson Frank Bwalya said the party has verified reports from Southern Province that some Chiefs and Headmen and women are telling peasant farmers not to collect and plant seed distributed by Government saying that the government was late in delivering the inputs.
Mr Bwalya claimed that the traditional leaders are misleading unsuspecting farmers that it is too late to plant hence they should not collect the inputs.
He said two chiefs and one headwoman have been quoted saying disparaging remarks against the leadership of President Edgar Lungu and accusing him of knowing nothing about agriculture hence the delay in delivering farming inputs.
“Therefore, we strongly believe that the traditional leaders who are discouraging peasant farmers in Southern province from planting on grounds that it is late are not only compromising food security but endangering national security as well,” Mr Bwalya said.
He added, “Last year the rains started late and then disappeared creating a drought that caused the destruction of crops mainly maize in Eastern province and other parts of our country. After 15th January 2015 rains drastically improved and farmers were advised to replant.”
“Many farmers replanted and the result is known to everyone namely the bumper harvest mainly of maize that we recorded even in areas where farmers had to plant late. It is therefore strange that a chief or headman or woman can discourage poor peasant farmers from collecting seed provided by GRZ under FISP arguing that it would be a waste of time because the inputs arrived late.”
He said every Zambian should be afraid that if the farmers in Southern province, mainly peasant farmers listen to these powerful traditional leaders and decide not to plant there will be hunger in the area which produces a lot of maize when the weather is good.
“Should that happen, the same traditional leaders will turn round and convince the people that the cause of hunger in their area is the PF. Against this background, we believe that what these traditional leaders are doing is unacceptable. It is a recipe for hunger and associated suffering,” Mr Bwalya said.
He said the PF is investigating the real motive for the action of these traditional leaders whom he said are clearly trying to create a national food crisis.
Mr Bwalya added, “Our government has a responsibility to feed our people in the case of hunger. This is the rationale behind the Food Reserve Agency (FRA) buying crops such as rice and maize for strategic reserves. However, it is an act of sabotage to cause hunger by discouraging peasant farmers from planting.”
“We are passionately appealing to the culprits to stop discouraging farmers from collecting their seed and going ahead to plant. We are also appealing to other traditional leaders in Southern province to rise to the occasion and stop the trend.”