Senior Chief Nzamane of the Ngoni in Chipata district in Eastern province has urged farmers in his area to grow orange maize because of its health benefits.
The chief said growing of the crop, which is rich in vitamin ‘A’, will help families not only benefit in being healthy but also improve food security at house hold level.
He was speaking at an agro Field Day held at his palace yesterday.
Chief Nzamane noted that vitamin ‘A’ found in the maize variety contributes to the growth of children, adding that it also improves eye sight in both children and the elderly poeple.
The traditional leader, who has increased the hectares from 1.5 to 2.5 for orange maize, stated that conservation farming was the best method in which to grow the crop.
He has since urged an organisation called Harvest Plus and its partners to make the orange maize seed available to the local community because it has shown interest in growing the crop.
“The farmers in the area are interested in growing the crop but they do not know where to get the maize seed from,” he added.
The traditional leader boasted that besides the orange maize he has also planted orange sweet potatoes for consumption, adding that there is need for the locals to adapt to the varieties because of the health benefits.
And Chipata District Commissioner, Kalunga Zulu, stated that already, over 300 farmers are engaged in growing orange maize in the region.
Mr Zulu has since urged farmers to emulate senior chief Nzamane in growing the crop which had numerous nutritional benefits.
‘I would like to tell farmers that the 2013/14 farming season will have the seed in all agro shops to enable them access the seed,” he added.
He stated that orange sweet potatoes, which are also rich in vitamin ‘A’, are available and being promoted with intent to also create an opportunity for citizens to have a variety of crops which contribute to the improvement of their health.
He stated that the leadership taken by the Ministry of Agriculture in creating awareness about the crop needs to be commended.
And the DC has revealed that Harvest Plus will link farmers to markets so that farmers are not stranded once they grow the crop to earn an income.
He stated that such initiatives to avail farmers with a ready market is commendable but stressed the need for farmers not to sell all the crop as it was unique and meant for their families to consume so that they remain strong and healthy.
Meanwhile, Harvest Plus Country Manager, Eliab Simpungwe, stated that his organization has already engaged three major distributors of seed to put the seed on the market for farmers to access.
Dr Simpungwe said his organization will discuss with the companies to open outlets to sell orange maize closer to farmers.
He named the three companies as Zamseed, Kamano and SEEDCO.