Central Province NAREP Information and Publicity Secretary Frank Sichone says his party has received with shock the cancellation of Agricultural and Commercial shows in Lusaka, Southern and Western provinces on claims that farmers have nothing to exhibit due to crop failure caused by droughts.
And Sichone has challenged government to inform the public if it has no money to fund the shows in the three provinces than giving an excuse of crop failure.
In a statement, Sichone said there were a lot of exhibitions at the shows and it was not right for government to cancel them on the basis of crop failure.
“We have received the news with shock that the Ministry of Agriculture has decided not to hold agriculture and commercial shows in the above named provinces due to crop failure as a result of poor rains in the 2018/2019 farming season. The reason given does not make any logical sense as agriculture does not only mean growing maize according to this interpretation from the ministry of agriculture. Many farmers grow drought resistant crops like cassava, others are into poultry farming, animal husbandry, fish farming and the list is endless,” Sichone stated.
“Is the ministry telling us that all these are affected because of crop failure, what about the other commercial exhibitors like banks, insurances, hawkers, entertainment are they also affected with the partial drought? What we expect is to see farmers exhibit other farm products that were not affected by the drought or exhibit on new methods of conservation farming, farm equipment, fish farming and many other methods and ways to manage climate change.”
Sichone said government should come out in the open and inform the nation if it had no money to fund the agricultural and commercial show.
“This government must come out clean and just inform the nation if the treasury is completely dry and that they can’t even fund the agriculture and commercial show. They should not hide in the name of crop failure. We believe they have no money. We are asking government to rescind this decision as it will affect many small scale farmers and people who exhibit at the show. This will also make the nation loose forex from international exhibitors,” stated Sichone.
“We find this difficult to understand and why we have reached this far because the show has been held in the past even when there was drought. Does this mean we can now only have the show when there is bumper harvest? Certainly not. Something is wrong somewhere. This is a wrong decision and austerity measures should be applied on serving from their own allowances and not from stopping the shows to take place. This should be reversed immediately.”