—Government has called for concerted efforts among all stakeholders in Nchelenge District if the declining fish stocks on Lake Mweru are to be reversed.
Nchelenge District Commissioner (DC), Royd Chakaba, says the depletion of fish due to over-fishing and the use of illegal fishing gears require involvement of the local authority, traditional leaders, fishers, fish traders and government.
Mr Chakaba said this yesterday when he officiated at the 2013 Nchelenge District Agricultural Show held at the Farmers Training Centre (FTC) under the theme " Business in a Changing Environment".
ZANIS Reports that the Nchelenge DC said there is need for fishers to consider diversifying into other activities such as bee keeping, fish farming, and integrated farming.
Mr Chakaba said there is also need for farmers in the area to change their mindset from the practice of maize mono cropping and instead diversify into growing other crops.
He named the crops that could also be grown in the area as cassava, sweet potatoes, burlrush, finger millet, wheat, sunflower, ground nuts and rice.
The DC urged the fishers to make the switch as soon as possible because government will soon move in to remove all the illegal settlers in the fish breeding areas on Lake Mweru such as Mifimbo.
Mr Chakaba also called for diversification in agriculture to ensure food security in the light of the current changes in weather patterns.
And Mr Chakaba has revealed that Nchelenge has been allocated 3,600 packs of maize, 330 packs of rice and 80 packs of sorghum under the 2013/2014 Farmer Input Support Programme (FISP).
"The allocation for the 2013/2014 FISP allocation has seen an increase in the maize input by 1,170 packs, that is from 2,430 packs in the 2012/2013 season to 3,600 packs for the 2013/2014 season" Mr Chakaba said.
The DC urged co-operatives and farmer organisations to adhere to guidelines outlined in the Farmer Input Support Programme (FISP) manual if they are to benefit from the facility.
Mr Chakaba warned that only co-operatives and farmer groups which will have in place documents such as bank statements, certificate of registration, and member list will benefit from the 2013/2014 FISP.
Mr Chakaba said government will this year’s crop marketing season expect to operate a total of 14 satellite depots throughout Nchelenge District.
He, however, called on farmers to be patient because despite government’s announcement that the crop marketing season should have commenced on 10th June this year, the process in Nchelenge will be delayed to allow the maize to dry to the required moisture content of 12.5 per cent.
And speaking earlier, Nchelenge District Show Society Chairperson, Jospeph Musonda, called on farmers in the area to take farming as a Business, instead of relying on government for subsidies.
Mr Musonda said there is need for framers to take advantage of FISP to grow their fields because over-dependency on government may lead to most farmers being left behind in case of shift in policies.
He said agriculture shows are part of government’s programme meant to help farming information to be disseminated to the communities.
Mr Musonda appealed to government to find avenues of penalising farmer groups that shun events such as agriculture shows but only become active during FISP.