THE Zambia National Farmers’ Union (ZNFU) says Zambia is likely to reap a good harvest in the forthcoming crop marketing season, mainly boosted by early maize planting that was undertaken by farmers in the current farming season.

In an interview, ZNFU media and public relations manager Calvin Kaleyi said although the Union had not yet undertaken a preliminary forecast, Zambia was likely to produce sufficient crop harvest owing to significant early maize planting undertaken by farmers in the 2019/2020 farming season.

“We haven’t come up with one (crop forecast) yet, but so far, the indication points to a good harvest. There are barriers that formed badly in the past season such as Southern, parts of Western and Central provinces. And these areas have done very well this season, together with other areas that have predominantly been doing very well. Overall, we are expecting a much improved agricultural season, a good crop better than the two previous seasons. We are yet to do the forecast and once the forecast is done, we will lock in the figures. But the indicators are that we are going to have a very good harvest,” Kaleyi said.

He could, however, not comment on factors explaining maize and mealie meal shortages that had hit some parts of the country in recent weeks.

“It is very difficult for us to talk about the maize shortage and the mealie meal situation because our job only ends at producing the maize, and whatever happens to the maize, how it is stocked, is not really our job. The country produced quantities that were approximately two million metric tonnes, that is for 2018/2019 farming seasons. We landed it on the market and we went into early maize production, and right now, some farmers want to start harvesting the early maize, which we expect to be harvested by the end of April. Some of them are ready to harvest; it is only that some of the maize cannot reach the market because of moisture content. But some of the maize is ready to harvest,” said Kaleyi

“And also, we have small-scale farmers that did their normal planting so we expect that the market should be ready in the next four to six weeks, we should be talking about the issues of short supply to be the things of the past. By May or June, we should be okay with supply. There is the early maize that is being produced, which is going to land on the market by April and then we have the normal planting, which is going to land on the market by May so we should be able to stabilize.”

Zambia equally recorded decent rainfall during this last farming season, particularly in three provinces, which lacked adequate rainfall last year.