Zambians will not go hungry despite a disappointing rain season the country has experienced so far, the Minister of Agriculture has assured. Ms. Dora Siliya said some parts of the country have been particularly affected with crops that were earlier planted going to waste due to poor rainfall.
The Minister was speaking in an interview Monday in Berlin, Germany, on the sidelines of the German/Africa Business Association meeting called for African countries to share their investment prospects in the agricultural sector with the German business community.
“In Ecological zone one and that is Southern Province, parts of Western Province and parts of Eastern Province we have seen that there has actually been a drought. We have experienced no rains in those areas” leading to the failure of crops like maize said Ms. Siliya.
The Minister noted that as expected the country has seen more rains in ecological zone three consisting of parts of northern regions of Zambia, the Copperbelt, Central province and parts northwestern province.
“However, it is in these areas where the soil is quite acid and you don’t really expect a lot of return on the hectares in terms of harvest”, the Minister regretted. Ms. Siliya said going forward government is expected to increase its investment in harvesting rain-water and the construction of dams thereby reducing dependence on rain-fed agriculture.
“Especially in ecological zone one which is Southern Province, we need to invest in bulk water sites. We have to dam the country”, the Minister said with emphasis encouraged by what neighboring Zimbabwe has done. Ms. Siliya said small dams will have to be made throughout the country so that farming may continue aided by irrigation whether there has been rainfall or rainfall.
The Minister noted sadly that in some parts of the country farmers may have to replant just so that they may get something out of this year’s rain season. She said there has been some indication that rains might begin to fall in some parts of the country.
“We pray for divine intervention that the army worm attack is controlled and that it is not as devastating as it was last year so that we may salvage something from our crops”, the Minister said prayerfully.
Ms. Siliya said her Ministry is monitoring the situation to ensure food security, food that is accessible and food that is affordable. She also said her Ministry is monitoring the region for the impact of the partial drought as there are reports of countries equally affected. Last year the southern African region suffered food shortages, which Zambia filled up with exports of her bumper harvest.
“We have asked all the districts to continue giving us reports so that in the next few weeks, we assess the impact of the partial drought and that of the army worms”, said the Minister assuring Zambians that government is on top of things.
Ms. Siliya said last year the Zambian government made some tough decisions that affected the private sector so that the food security of its citizens was assured. Similarly, the Minister said an elected government as that of President Edgar Lungu will not hesitate to make tough decisions if need be to make sure Zambians are food secure.
Experts have warned that climate change will continue to affect food security and energy supply unless countries adopt measures to mitigate their impact. On its part, the Zambian government has stepped up engagement with various global partners since the climate change conference in Bonn, Germany last year in mobilizing resources intended for investment in climate-smart technologies.