Fri, 18 Nov 2016 13:40:44 +0000
GOVERNMENT has embarked on a soil mapping strategy across the country in a bid to enhance crop diversification which will focus on increasing crop variety to address the nutritional problems being faced in the country.
Minister of Agriculture Dora Siliya said the research department had embarked on soil mapping to ascertain which crops would grow better in various parts of the country for farmers to have a good return on their investment. She was speaking in Lusaka yesterday when the National Food and Nutrition Commission and officers from the Ministry of Health paid a courtesy call on her. Ms Siliya said there was need for the country to venture into growing other value and nutritional crops away from the traditional maize crop in an effort to accord people the nutrition needs they require.
Ms Siliya said it was saddening that many children in the country especially in rural areas were stunted and under-nourished because they did not eat a balanced diet as a result of the dependency on maize meal. She said her ministry under the Farmer Input Support Programme (FISP) supported the growing of a variety of crops such as rice and potatoes among others rather than depending only on the maize crop. Ms Siliya also challenged the National Food and Nutrition Commission of Zambia, which she referred to as a sleeping giant, to work closely with line ministries such as Agriculture and Health in an effort to address the challenges of stunting among children in Zambia.
“Good life is not about nshima with chicken , meat or T-borne every day. No. But to eat balanced food and other additions. We need to encourage our farmers to grow foods that are nutritious to the country,” she said. Meanwhile, Ms Siliya said the country had enough maize stock to last until April next year and the Food Reserve Agency (FRA) will manage to purchase the required stock.
“The foundation of the ban on export of maize was as a result of Government not having adequate stock and FRA had only purchased about 238,000MT and was short of 220MT to make 500,000 MT, but we have enough stocks in the country,” Ms Siliya said. Mr Siliya said the FRA and the private sector were holding talks to allow FRA to buy the required stock and then the export ban would be lifted once the country’s food security was safe.
She said the Government was doing everything possible to ensure that production was increased, hence the paying of farmers for their supply had been intensified. And National Food and Nutrition Commission of Zambia executive director Robinah Kwofie said there was need to review the food balance sheet as the country was performing poorly in terms on nutrition food chains resulting in stunted growth and underweight in children.