UPND leader Hakainde Hichilema says the Patriotic Front-led government is hostile to farmers.
In his message to commemorate Farmers’ Day, Monday, Hichilema noted that government did not seem to consider the cost of production when setting market prices.
“Happy farmers day to the ever hardworking farmers of this country, if at all there is anything to be happy about. The Zambia National Farmers Union (ZNFU) says ‘no farmer, no food, no future’. We may add, no food leads to death and other complications. Food is very important to the body, lack of it can have far reaching consequences in the development of society. It is scientifically proven that a human being who does not have adequate nourishment will struggle for the rest of their life. This is the reason we take Agriculture seriously. This is the reason we have to sustain the farmers at any cost. If there is one thing that we must invest in, it is our agriculture,” Hichilema stated.
“We need to really critically examine the cost of production of our food for us to remain competitive not only in the region but world over. Zambia produces maize whose price is far much higher than the international market because our costs of production are high. Other than high input prices, we are also faced with low yield rates that are a combination of bad farming techniques and lack of extension services. Added to that is the lack of finance for the agriculture sector, which is integrated.”
Hichilema noted that it was senseless to buy a 50Kg bag of maize at K65 when the cost of production was K150.
“For us our policy is clear, we will reduce costs of production, increase productivity, rural roads maintenance and link the farmers to the markets through international arrangements. There is no point in boasting about 3 million tons maize when you do not have a market for it. Our farmers have proved that they can produce food as long as a right policy environment exists. This is where proper leadership is required. And that leadership will be provided by UPND. Selling a bag of maize at 65 kwacha when the production costs are 150 kwacha is senseless. We need to seriously examine our agriculture policies if we are to avert hunger. The current environment is hostile to agriculture,” stated Hichilema.