By HELEN ZULU –
SMALL scale farmers across the country are under pressure due to the unpredictable weather pattern which is likely to affect their production this year.
Small Scale Farmers Development Agency (SAFADA) director Boyd Moobwe said unpredictable weather pattern coupled with the high prices of input in the country were taking a toll on farmers and creating some concern for the sustainability of the sector.
Mr Moobwe said in an interview in Lusaka that the answer to food security in the country was in small scale farmers hence the need to help them increase production.
“Farmers are facing a lot of challenges, they are panicking where business of farming is concerned, farming is a business and when there are hitches here and there which are not sorted out it becomes an issue of concern.
“As at now farmers are really under pressure because of the current weather pattern, you have seen that there have been no rains for some days now, the crops are being affected, and this may affect production,” he said.
Mr Moobwe said extreme weather conditions result in decreased access to water, high disease risk and damage to agricultural land and crops, a situation which had the potential to impact on the food security of the country.
He said there was need for Government to help farmers find sustainable ways of dealing with the effects of climate change going forward to ensure food security in the country.
Mr Moobwe said the full effects of the drought would probably become more evident over the medium term and that economies of scale would become increasingly important as farmers’ margins were under pressure.
He further urged Government to ensure that farmers accessed farming inputs on time by improving the electronic voucher system which was currently proving to be a challenge.
Mr Moobwe said the agency appreciated Government efforts towards improving agricultural performance but observed that there was need to revisit its approach to agricultural development.
“We are aware that Government has released some money for the e-voucher system, but some farmers have not been able to access the inputs due to some challenges related to the system.
“We have over 3,000 members but only about 35 per cent have been able to access the inputs. Government needs to work on the system to ensure that farmers access the inputs on time,” he said.