FORMER agriculture minister Michael Katambo says he is available to pitch his ideas on how to address challenges facing farmers in the sector, if called upon by current office bearers.

And Katambo says citizens should be thankful for PF’s hard work because the party ensured Zambia was food secure.

In an interview, Wednesday, Katambo said although he was far from joining the UPND government, he was willing to offer his ideas if approached.

“If I’m invited, because Zambia is our country, we are all traders, so if there is a challenge like farmers are finding challenges and the one holding office thinks that the past minister can give ideas, if I’m approached to say ‘can you help with finding the solutions to these challenges that the farmers are facing’, then I’m saying I’m available. I’m far away from joining the UPND, let them do their part and finish their mandate. But if there is a challenge [and] I’m asked to say ‘you are the past minister, do you have any idea [on how] to address this challenge?’ Then, we are able to help if I’m invited. [But] if I’m invited to be a minister of agriculture again, no, no, no. That is not the story,” he said.

Katambo bragged that the country was food secure because of the previous government.

“We have left the strategic reserve to its full capacity. We produced about 3.6 metric tonnes of maize. We are also able to export various crop commodities like maize feed and others. It is not the new dawn government, it’s the PF. The harvest that you are expecting now is the new dawn government. We are sitting and are food secure because of what we produced under the Patriotic Front. What we are expecting now and going forward is the new dawn government’s harvest,” he said.

“The Vice-President was answering a question last Friday to say we have 14 months of food security. It tells you that this is the food that the PF government produced that has made the country to be food secure. And if anything, they can even export it. If we were in government ourselves, let’s assume we won the elections, we were also going to allow the export of the production. It is important also to be thankful for the hard work we did. We did a lot and managed the country to be food secure.”

Meanwhile, Katambo said he was eager to see cheaper fertilizer made available to farmers by the new dawn government as per their promise.

“They (farmers) complained to us that the PF is selling expensive fertilizer. So if the PF was buying at US$900 or US$1000, D compound or urea, why is it that fertilizer has increased and farmers are complaining that it is expensive? We are all expecting to see that the cheaper fertilizer is made available to our farmers by the new dawn government. So we are all expectant because for us what we know is that fertilizer is just imported. They went further to tell us that they will find a solution to bring cheaper fertilizer and make it affordable to our farmers, that it will cost K250 per bag,” said Katambo.

“NCZ only produces smaller quantities because they have absolute machinery. Their machinery is absolute and so they can’t produce bigger or larger quantities. That’s why fertilizer within the local area cannot be cheaper for now unless you find an investor who is able to produce fertilizer with raw materials which could be cheaper. We are all eager to see the price of fertilizer under this government which is really very cheap.’