THE Zambia National Farmers Union (ZNFU) has called on farmers to be patient and wait for the marketing season for them to take advantage of the ready regional market that is in need of food.

And the ZNFU has projected that this year’s harvest will be better than the last four seasons but would have been better if not for the floods that hit at harvest time.

In an interview, ZNFU media and public relations manager Calvin Kaleyi wondered why farmers had resorted to selling maize even before they harvest as this was allowing unscrupulous businessmen to take advantage of them.

“And there are a lot of offers in the region. Look, Malawi is looking for Zambian maize, Congo, perennial challenges with their food arrangement so they are always looking to Zambia, Mozambique is also in a crisis, so you are in a region that is looking for food, you are looking at a region that is looking for maize and for farmers to be in a hurry to sell to businessmen that are going to the farms and telling them to sell the crop before they even harvest, it’s very strange because we have never seen a situation where a farmer would sell crop before they even harvest. It has never happened, because I mean, what they are doing these people is that they are just going to a field, they look at the field, how many hectares is it, okay 10 hectares, estimated crop production per hectare is how much, 1.2 per tonne and then they calculate that by 10 hectares and then they give the farmer money and yet they could even get much more crop from there,” Kaleyi said.

“So you know, they are just disadvantaging themselves and our appeal is for farmers to hold on a little bit longer, let the moisture content come down, let the marketing season open up and then they are going to get value for their money. So our position remains that we are calling on farmers to just exercise a little bit of patience, these businessmen are just taking advantage of them, they are just being gullible. You know they are just being taken advantage of because if they waited a little bit longer when the marketing season opens, it’s going to point somewhere, the prices will open up and so on.”

He further said this year’s harvest is expected to be better than the last four seasons but expressed disappointment that they would not make recoveries as they had projected.

“It will be a different season this year, obviously it’s going to be slightly better than the previous years. Yes, it’s devastating that we should be having floods at this time when farmers are supposed to be harvesting, we know that some parts of Northern, and other areas, there has been some floods, we feel it’s going to have some effect on production yes, but looking at the overall picture, if you look at the picture holistically, I think we are still going to have a better harvest than the previous seasons but it’s a sad development because this is the year that we had actually banked on making recoveries as farmers, especially that the last four seasons have not been very good so we were prayerful that this season was going to be a bit different but you see, our plans are not God’s plans and we cannot do anything about it. But that said, we expect a better crop than we have had the last four seasons,” said Kaleyi.