Small-Scale Farmers’ Development Agency (SAFADA) says government’s hesitation to commence distribution farming inputs to farmers implies that the agricultural sector is neglected and not considered as important.

Despite Minister of Agriculture Michael Katambo having told Parliament in July that the distribution of farming inputs would commence on September 1, 2018, government has yet again delayed the distribution with the imminent onset of the rainy season.

In an interview, SAFADA executive director Boyd Moobwe expressed concern that government had not started distributing the inputs, but advised farmers to desist from repeatedly relying on government for inputs.

“We are very worried, as SAFADA, that government has not yet started distributing farming inputs across the country. Because we expected to have the inputs on time, but according to what the Minister was saying, they said September 1; now this is October, and they have not distributed anything! We don’t know what is happening, otherwise, as SAFADA, we are trying to organise for a few arrangements to ensure that our farmers have fertiliser. And, actually, a piece of advice to farmers, you know, they should not always wait for government to supply inputs. I think by this time they know what happens when it’s this time of the year. Year in, year out, this is this kind of delays,” Moobwe said.

“And so, I think the maize production for 2018/2019 maize season will even dwindle further. It will be affected if things are not put in place. We have farmers that are not able to stand on their own. The government says FISP should now be four years after that, farmers should graduate, but I know that they cannot graduate because they are reliant on government. That’s why they are dependent on government. So, farmers should learn and be quick to react on their own. So, it’s a question of planning and implementation. I think there are a lot of issues that needs government considerations, including the army worms that come every year now. As a farmer, you need to be prepared to face all these challenges and not be dependent on government to offer help. It is just difficult to be a farmer in Zambia because government is not consistent with policies, it doesn’t not want to help small-scale farmers as they should be.”

Moobwe observed that the 2018/2019 farming season would remain as affected as the previous one in view of the continued delay in input distribution.

“And the farmers, themselves, are not educated enough to deal with some challenges that do not require government’s attention. Government should be serious to try to harmonise agriculture like in other countries where they have put agriculture as number one because it’s the biggest employer of people. Our government has not done likewise, and this is why we have numerous challenges in the agricultural sector today. Farmers should be number one in every aspect. When it comes to planning, the agriculture sector should be number one. So, I’m really worried that government has no started yet distributing farming inputs because that means we are not prioritised, and as such, we cannot develop further,” said Moobwe.