—–Farmers in Chavuma are still doubtful if they will engage in any meaningful maize production activities this year as a result of a change in fertiliser pricing.
This is despite assurances from government that it has not scrapped subsidies on farming inputs but only adjusted the price of fertiliser from K50 to K100 per bag.
A Chavuma-based maize farmer, Richard Kanyimbwa, said in statement to ZANIS today that most farmers in the district are doubtful if they will afford to buy fertiliser at the newly adjusted price and engage in maize production activities.
Mr Kanyimbwa said while farmers are not resisting the idea for government to adjust the price of fertiliser upwards the move has caught the farmers by surprise.
He said as a result most farmers in the district may not afford fertiliser, adding that the anticipated reduced maize growing activities in Chavuma may affect the food security in the district.
He appealed to government to give a reprieve to the farming community for this year’s farming by reverting to the old price of K50 farmers have been paying on a bag of fertiliser to enable them prepare for the adjusted price in the 2014-2015 farming season.
And Mr Kanyimbwa said suggestions that farmers should diversify their production to crops like cassava are welcome.
But the emerging farmer observed that a shift to cassava production would face implications such as a high cost of liming the soil, demand for more cultivated land and poor market for the crop.
The farmer said cassava cannot do well if grown direct on the same land that was being used for maize production because the soil had become acidic due to heavy use of fertiliser on maize.
He further noted that food security may be affected because a lima of cassava produces less than maize grown on the same size of land, hence the need for farmers to acquire more land to grow cassava.
Mr Kanyimbwa also mentioned that it would not be feasible to fight hunger by encouraging people to grow cassava because the available varieties of the crop take over one year to mature while the market for the crop is still underdeveloped in the country.