Chief Shimbizhi of the Ila people in Itezhi tezhi district in central province says late delivery of farming inputs to farmers will have negative impacts on the food security for this year.
Chief Shimbizhi told ZANIS in an interview at his Palace in Lubanda that the supply of farm inputs under the government-supported Fertilizer Input Support Programme (FISP) for 2012/2013 season is not impressive and has the potential to negatively impact on crop yield.
“Imagine we only received seeds and fertilizer for FISP yesterday and those farming inputs have just been dumped here at my Palace because it is not possible for the trucks to deliver it to other areas due to impassable roads”
“what are we going to do with these seeds which have maturing period of 160 days, it is too late, if I was the beneficiary of these inputs, I would have just kept them so that when they come for monitoring I just show them their fertilizer and seeds because there is nothing I can do right now” Chief Shimbizhi said.
He noted that it was regrettable that firms recommended by government to supply fertilizer to small scale farmers can bring inputs on 30th January when they should have delivered them in September.
“We need the government to reflect seriously on the contracts that they awarded to those companies to supply this fertilizer because they are killing this sector” Chief Shimbizhi said.
“If we are not careful this country will become food-deficit and start importing food such as maize to satisfy the growing demand and you know issues of food need greater attention by government because they touch on people’s lives. Government can only ignore these issues at their own peril” he said.
The Traditional Leader asked government to review these contracts awarded to those companies charged with the responsibility of supplying and delivering inputs.
“Government should be very careful about this issue, late supply of inputs has not gone down well with farmers because it has disturbed their programs and it makes government unpopular to farmers” Chief Shimbizhi said.
Meanwhile chief Shimbizhi has appealed to government to pay farmers who supply maize to the Food Reserve Agency (FRA) on time.“The FRA does not pay farmers on time, some farmers just got paid late January and yet they needed the money to buy farming inputs in September and November” chief Shimbizhi said.
Chief Shimbizhi has also asked the government to re-introduce the program of fencing off the Namwala Game Management Area (GMA) and the Kafue National Park.
He said that ever since the wire fence was brought down, there has been an increase in the number of animal diseases in the district due to mingling of cattle with wild animals such as buffaloes.