–Citrus Farmers in Katete district have asked government to quickly open a processing plant for horticulture products.
Speaking when ZANIS visited CHIZAM farmers which holds about 12.5 hectares of an orchard, Katete Horticulture Cooperative Society Limited Chairperson Philip Migson Moyo said citrus farmers in the district have remained optimistic towards effectively contributing to the growth of Zambia’s economy.
Mr. Moyo explained that despite the citrus farmers not receiving any form of empowerment from government, farmers want government to open a processing plant as a way of helping them market their produce.
He said by doing so government would be creating the much needed jobs by the youths in the district.
He added that previously government through Zambia Cooperative Federation (ZCF) and Lima Bank gave the farmers incentives such as loans to help them expand their businesses.
He further narrated that with the change of governments things started changing to an extent where citrus farmers have remained with no support from government.
Mr. Moyo who boasted of having about 4600 viable orange tress with a production of about 600 tonnes of oranges said Katete has good weather conditions which government must make use of and outgrow the economy by supporting citrus farmers.
He said due to lack of a processing plant in the district his farm this year has lost about 30 tonnes of oranges.
He explained that the fruit has continued to go to waste because farmers cannot afford to buy chemicals and fertilizers to support all the plants.
He has since called on government to find ways of facilitating for financial support like it has been offering the Farmer Support Input Program (FISP).
He noted that government is doing a lot in alleviating poverty in the country as can be seen through the many empowerment schemes that have been offered to youths and women in the country.
He suggested that government should help citrus farmers by offering credit guarantees with financial institutions which farmers can pay back.
He added that it has not being easy for farmers in the area to access credit from lending institutions as their farm documents are on government ninty years title deed.
He has also called on banks to relax their lending conditions so that Zambians can have access to credit and support the development of the country.
He emphasized that a processing plant for Katete district is a must as it will also help other farmers trading in fresh products to find a reliable market.
Katete District which was once Zambia’s largest producer of oranges currently has a population of about 17 commercial Citrus farmers with a total yearly production of about 835,560 tonnes of oranges.