CSO-SUN tips ZNS to focus on crop diversification in land cultivation scheme

The Civil Society Scaling-Up Nutrition (CSO-SUN) Alliance has hailed Zambia National Service (ZNS) Commandant Lieutenant General Nathan Mulenga’s directive to open up more land for cultivation to increase food production.

But the CSO-SUN has, however, urged ZNS to focus on crop diversification in order to meet the nutrition needs of the people.

Two weeks ago during the ZNS Training School Officers’ Annual Ball in Kafue, General Mulenga directed ZNS units in Luapula, Muchinga, Northern and North-Western provinces to open up more land for cultivation to increase production and contribute to national food security.

In a statement, CSO-SUN Alliance country coordinator Mathews Mhuru welcomed the measure as progressive in helping to improve the country’s national food security.

“The Civil Society Scaling Up Nutrition Alliance welcomes the directive by the Zambia National Service Commandant Lieutenant General Nathan Mulenga for the ZNS units in North-Western, Luapula and Northern provinces to open up more land for cultivation to increase food production. We are delighted that the ZNS Command is heeding President Edgar Lungu’s directive for the service to increase its agriculture production by opening up more virgin land in provinces that experience more rains to ensure food security in Zambia,” Mhuru stated.

“In the face of climate change, which has impacted agriculture production in the southern part of the country resulting in increased hunger levels in 2019, we feel this directive is progressive as the northern part of the country continues to receive good rainfall key to good agriculture production.”

He, however, urged ZNS to focus on crop diversification in order to meet the nutrition needs of the people.

“We, therefore, want to take this opportunity to advise that as the ZNS begins its crop production expansion programme in the three provinces, crop diversification should be taken into account in order to meet the nutrition needs of the Zambian people,” he urged.

“Zambia has continued to rank poorly on the Global Hunger Index because of a mono-diet largely focused on maize, hence the ZNS directive is key in improving this status. The ZNS should, therefore, not only focus on growing maize, but other crops that grow well in the three provinces, such as pulses, fruits, tubers and grains, which should include sorghum and millet. The CSO-SUN stands ready to play an advisory role to the ZNS in ensuring that the agriculture extension programme takes into consideration the nutrition aspect and needs to the Zambian people.”

And Mhuru appealed to ZNS to consider investing in irrigation technologies in drought-hit areas like Southern Province.

“Meanwhile, the CSO-SUN has appealed to the Zambia National Service to consider investing in sustainable irrigation technologies in the drought-hit areas in Southern, Eastern and Lusaka provinces to guarantee food security. These provinces remain key to Zambia’s agriculture system due to their favourable soils for maize and groundnuts production, among other crops,” stated Mhuru.

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