Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Stop giving half baked information – Agriculture Consultant urges Ministry of Agriculture

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A Climate Smart Agriculture Consultant Dr Oliver Kandela Bulaya cites the trend of giving half baked information as a recipe of confusion.
Dr Bulaya stated this inline with the Ministry of Agriculture announcement to import 125,000 metric tonnes of wheat, an announcement which he says should have been accompanied with an assessment report that gives a clear roadmap as to when the assessment was done, who was involved and what the findings where, that led the Ministry to reach such decision.

He added that giving full details to the public and other interested parties is the best leadership trait.

“We must avoid allowing speculations because of giving half baked information, because if we truly have a deficit of wheat, the government would have engaged relevant bodies to discuss the matter to avoid speculation,” he said

Dr. Bulaya however noted that this is an opportunity for Zambia to grow the wheat industry , adding that the agenda must be pushed to the small holder farmers to appreciate the growing of crops that are of high value.

He mentioned the need to provide irrigation facilities that will allow the farmers to be growing wheat throughout the year.

But opposite to these claims that there’s a shortage of wheat in the country and that the Government has resorted to importing wheat into the country, the Government through the Ministry of Agriculture has denied allowing importation of wheat into the country.

Agriculture Minister Reuben Mtolo has denied reports that his Ministry has allowed the importation of 125,000 metric tonnes of wheat.

Mr Mtolo said that as far as he is concerned, there is no permission that has been granted to any company or individual to import wheat.

He mentioned that although he has not been briefed yet on the last resolutions of the stock monitoring committee which ZNFU is part of, such a decision if true is ineffective.

The Minister disclosed that when he enquired from Ministry Permanent Secretary Green Mbozi on the matter, the controlling officer also expressed ignorance of the purported permits for wheat importation.

Yesterday, the Zambia National Farmers’ Union – ZNFU through its President Jervis Zimba expressed shock by the Ministry of Agriculture’s decision to allow for the importation of wheat despite local farmers producing adequate wheat stocks for national consumption.

Mr Zimba expressed dismayed by the latest stance taken by the Ministry of Agriculture to ignore farmers and rush into a decision to import wheat when it is a known fact that the country has been producing adequate wheat stocks for national consumption, as it is barely three months when wheat was harvested, and the country has enjoyed stable supply because of local production of wheat unlike other countries that have had to contain with supply side constraints associated with Russia and Ukraine War.

He disclosed that a review of last few years’ production and consumption patterns attest to the fact that there is an enormous difference between what is purported to be a shortfall and what is imported into the country, as the reality is that Zambia is self-sufficient in terms of wheat production except for the fact that exports of value-added products are encouraged to service certain regional niche markets.

“While this trade is good, we are concerned with buyers who persistently DO NOT STAKE out resources to buy from local farmers or venture in engaging farmers to grow the commodity for them,” he said

Mr Zimba further disclosed that any requests for wheat importation should be channelled to private sector industry stakeholder consultations to safeguard domestic production and marketing dynamics so that investments in local wheat production continues. This ensures that imports are allowed with full industry participation in the consultation process.

“As a Union we embrace engagement with Government, but we will not support heavy handed approaches being orchestrated by the Ministry of Agriculture under the guise of a stock monitoring committee decision when the committee leaves out key stakeholders. Whose benefit is being served at the end of the day, we ask? We challenge the Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Agriculture to respond to the letters from the Union where we have stated categorically that the stock monitoring committee should be reconstituted with a focus on its intended objectives and not serving the interests of a selected few. All our letters have gone unanswered, and we demand responses immediately,” Mr Zimba said

4 COMMENTS

  1. The ministry and the minister’s response was irresponsible and incompetent such chaps should not be in public offices…this is why when Zambia National Farmers’ Union first stated that Zambia was importing 125,000 metric tonnes of wheat I said ZNFU should have given more details like which company and when as these Govt officials will simply deny it. There is more to this story possible corruption and the top brass at the Ministry are covering up for something…this story is an investigative journalist dream treasure hunt so many questions; sadly investigative journalism is dead in Zambia.

  2. Remember what happened to late Evelyn Nguleka….Ministry of Agriculture is riddled with high corruption just like Ministry of Health…Reuben Mtolo is a well known Chipata Bandit…ACC needs to start investigating Reuben Mtolo,Chushi Kasanda,Kawana,Kakubo,Sylvia Masebo etc….and ZESCO directors….looks like there’s too much corruption and theft under UPND

  3. The more we import the more we out demand on FOREX which only drives key parameters like the exchange rate higher, importing should be avoided at all costs. We should always strive to export. Why are we not exporting soya beans that FRA had purchased for example? We are denying our country much needed FOREX.

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