The Zambia National Farmers Union of Zambia (ZNFU) has backed the decision by Zesco to start importing power from South Africa.

In a statement, ZNFU president Jervis Zimba stated that the union was ready to support an upward tariff adjustment for the imported power as long as this was done in a transparent manner.

“The productive sector is in dire need of electricity supply…as water levels at Kariba and Kafue drop to alarming levels has reached a crisis point. Under the circumstances, alternative sourcing of power is inevitable and a must. News that Zesco Ltd is considering importing power to a tune of 300MW to supplement local power generation has elated farmers and deserves to be supported by all well-meaning Zambians,” Zimba stated.

“This will help the country to navigate this period during the power supply shortfall, which has arisen largely because of the poor rainfall pattern experienced last season. The situation has further highlighted the dangers of over dependency on hydro generated power and accentuates the importance of accelerating the investments to diversify the country’s sources of power generation going forward.”

He called upon government to start the importation process with immediate effect.

“Additional power supply should be imported with immediate effect and we want to urge Government to consider this option with the speed it deserves. We are aware that importing power will come at an extra cost which means that it will be priced differently,” Zimba added.

“As a major stakeholder, we are ready to support an upward tariff adjustment for the imported power so long this is done in a transparent manner by Zesco Ltd and that it is not equated to a general increase of electricity tariffs. If anything, the measure should be temporary such that it disappears when local generation improves assuming good rainfall supply is experienced in the upcoming rainy season.”

He stated that power imports are currently needed if the farmers are to grow maize under irrigation.

“What should be key and clearly understood by all is that the cost of production will go up. However, at this juncture, a hard choice must be made between having access to expensive power and paying for it, or having no power and business grounds to a halt,” Zimba added.

“The ZNFU has been asked by Government to mobilise farmers to grow maize under irrigation so that the country has adequate national stocks of maize to safeguard national food security. This will only be made possible if the farming areas have access to electricity for irrigation and we see importing power as a safe buffer in achieving this and managing the national load shedding process.”

He further urged Zesco to stick to the published load shedding schedule.

” ZNFU remains committed to discuss with the relevant authorities as businesses seek to survive the effects of reduced power supply which is one of the worst aftermaths of climate change which has been felt by all,” stated Zimba.

“We further urge Zesco Ltd to double its efforts in disseminating information on the power supply crisis being experienced and stick to the published load shedding time schedules.”