The Zambia National Farmers’ Union (ZNFU) has said that is deeply disturbed by the continued authorization by the Ministry of Agriculture (MoA) of importation of onions and potatoes into the country even when Zambia has this commodity in abundance.
In a statement released to the media by ZNFU president, Jervis Zimba, ZNFU said that the organization has always engaged the MoA over the issue of importation of commodities that can be grown within the country, and onions and potatoes are some of the products.
Mr. Zimba said that his organization is saddened that it has not had a favourable response on this matter as the importation of onions has continued unabated and as a result, Zambia risk having over K23 million worth of onions going to waste if the matter remains unaddressed.
Mr. Zimba said that the Minister of Agriculture, Hon Mtolo Phiri, must clearly state whether he would like to see the country continue being a net importer of commodities that Zambia can readily produce, as his organization feels that the Minister is not listening to the industry and that Discussions were held together with written communication but there has been no action taken and no response to his organisation’s letter.
“His Excellency the President of the Republic of Zambia Mr. Hakainde Hichilema has emphasized the need to grow the country’s economy through agriculture, value addition, and diversification, which in turn should create jobs. How do we as a nation hope to achieve this with the kind of attitude being exuded at the Ministry of Agriculture?
“We, therefore, appeal to His Excellency President Hichilema to intervene in this matter before farmers
lose out. The local strides being made to grow agriculture products locally should be nurtured and not frustrated by needless imports.
“The Head of State is on the record saying the country is inviting investors to invest in Zambia’s
agriculture sector. It will be unfortunate that when the investors come to conduct due diligence, they will find these challenges facing them.
“There is a serious need for a mindset change in the Civil Service over the whole issue of imports to protect the interest of local farmers. Currently, we feel farmers are vulnerable as they are not protected and there is little recognition attached to farming locally. We invite the Minister of Agriculture to immediately come to the farms to check the huge volumes of onions and potatoes being held in storage,” concluded the statement