Opposition UPND leader Hakainde Hichilema has urged the government to take seriously the warning from the World Meteorological Organisation, which had forecast a 70 per cent chance of an El Niño recurrence.

El Niño is part of a routine climate pattern that occurs when sea surface temperatures in the tropical Pacific Ocean rise to above-normal levels for an extended period of time, thereby impacting crop production in affected areas.

In a statement, Hichilema who is one the biggest farmers and businessman in the country, said there was need for government to start preparing food security.

“The World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) has forecast a 70 per cent chances of recurrence of the EL Nino weather conditions for 2018 and 2019 season. The purpose of such forecasts is not necessarily to scare people, but to warn World communities especially those with vulnerable and poor economies like ourselves, to brace for eventualities so that we make adequate mitigatory measures to counter the effects of the whether. As we may know, EL Nino causes severe weather conditions that can gravely affect food security in the country and at households,” Hichilema said.

“It is in view of [the] foregoing that we would like to urge those in-charge of the national resources and the citizens at large to take practical steps in case of the recurrence of the EL Nino conditions. For those controlling national resources, it is important that:

1. They mop up all excess and uncollected maize and other crops around the country at attractive prices to the farmers and place them as strategic reserves.

2. They must avoid at all cost the temptation of exporting maize and other crops as this may affect the strategic food security reserves.

3. We must invest in better weather monitoring technology and improve our collaboration with experts in the field in order to improve our preparedness for uncertain times. This will also advantage our farming communities and empower them with well informed decisions pro actively.

4. There’s need to actively and continuously engage the citizens and equip them in advance with the knowledge and consequences of such adverse weather conditions.”

He said Zambians must also not relax and rely on government plans, stressing that the PF thrived on last minute fire fighting solutions.

“For our citizens, we must:

1. Consider stocking up enough food especially maize at household levels and only sell that which is really in excess.

2. We must consider venturing into drought resistance crops like millet, sorghum and cassava.

3. We must consider diversification programmes at personal level into say livestock.

We all know that we have a regime that thrives in dealing in fire fighting and knee jerk measures with the ultimate purpose of benefiting through corruption. Highly reputable World weather forecast organisations have sounded the warning and like Joseph of the Old Testament did, we in the UPND have now done our part in warning citizens and those controlling national resources on the practical measures that must be undertaken to achieve the intended objectives for the benefit of all our people,” warned Hichilema.