Minister in the Vice–President’s office Sylvia Chalikosa has advised farmers to pay attention to warning signs in order to adequately prepare for drought situations.

Featuring on ZNBC’s Sunday Interview, Chalikosa said government could not manage to distribute relied food to everyone and it was important for farmers to be self reliant.

“We have started the food relief distribution, where there is drought, we normally have an in depth assessment that’s done around April and the food relief programme is supposed to start around September when the season is dry so that we can get to the affected. So far, 51 districts have been affected and the food relief programme has started but we have a few challenges with the transportation of the food to particular districts because of the state of the roads. Now that we have gotten into the deep wet season, some areas are proving difficult to access. But nevertheless, we have a way of getting the food to the people. But again, we have to concentrate on rebuilding our roads so that people can look out for themselves,” Chalikosa said.

Chalikosa also advised farmers to insure their property.

“We do have an early warning system. If you listen to weather forecast on the news, that’s the first voice of call. The meteorological department usually gives us warnings. And working closely with them and the Ministry of Agriculture, we get the information that we are likely to have this area affected by such and such an activity. What we would like people to do, especially the farmers, is to pay attention to whatever warning they are given. The 2017/18 farming season, we had the warning but the response from the agricultural sector was very slow and as a result, it escalated to what it was and by the time we were intervening, there was widespread Army Worms attack. But this year for 2018/19, we have acted a little sooner and I don’t think we will have such a widespread destruction of their crop,” said Chalikosa.

“Basically, what we would like is that people should not see government as tending to their everyday needs, government should be their last resort when people cannot manage on their own and collectively, they make a big block, that’s when government can come in. But at individual level, we encourage people to take care of their property even through insurance. Insurance is a way in which people can recover some of their loses. If they don’t take out insurance on their crops or on their property, they can end up losing everything whereas if they do take out insurance they may have relieve for some claims that that may put out.”