National Union for Small Scale Farmers of Zambia (NUSFAZ) president Frank Kayula says ending nshima dependence will not work if the country relies on donor funding to diversify agriculture because such money comes with conditionalities.

Speaking at a public discussion organised by News Diggers! in partnership with Hivos Southern Africa last week in Lusaka, Dr Kayula said diversifying the country’s diet required a lot of investment.

Dr Kayula said development in this country could only be driven by Zambians themselves and by using Zambian resources.

“If we want to be food secure, if we want to diversify our sources of food in this country, there must be investment in that area. And in that regard, I want to say that investing using donor fund is not going to help us. Development in this country can only be driven by Zambians and with Zambian resources. A number of these donor funding resources we are receiving come with attached conditionalities which may actually be detrimental to where we want to drive this nation to. If we want to develop this country and diversify our eating habits, it has to start amongst ourselves. Fighting against Nshima dependency will require a lot of resources,” Dr Kayula said.

Dr Kayula also hailed government’s efforts in preparing small scale farmers for climate change effects.

“The inter-governmental panel on climate change have indicated that the worst to be affected by climate change are the poor small scale farmers who are residing in developing countries and Zambia is one of such countries. We are a developing country, meaning that our small scale farmers in this country who should be in the range between two million in this country will be affected terribly. In fact, this season in which we are, we have had some impact amongst our small scale farmers. Before we went into this season, we lobbied that government makes it mandatory for the sake of the small scale farmers that are accessing FISP to also be registered with some of these organisations that look at giving out monies in case the farmers lose. We said, let every farmer that is accessing FISP be insured because we would be sure that the farmers are not going to lose out,” said Dr Kayula.

“If climate change impacts them very severely, they are going to get some money from insurance companies, but if the climate change does not impact them, they will grow and harvest and have some money. We wasted this despite the farmers saying that they didn’t want to do that. But behind the scenes, we were negotiating that the premium does not go beyond a K100, which would be very affordable for the small scale farmer and indeed, the Ministry of Agriculture engaged some of these insurance companies and picked on one that actually engaged the farmers and the farmers were insured. We are very happy because right now, the Ministry of Agriculture is trying to see how they can help the farmers. Now, the challenge is that most small scale farmers grow maize and that makes them vulnerable.”