By CHATULA KANGALI –
ABOUT half of last year’s Zambia wheat production output is uncommitted in the farmers hands due to lack of market.
In the 2014/2015 farming season, the country produced 309,100 tonnes of wheat, which is mostly produced by commercial farmers.
Zambia National Farmers Union (ZNFU) senior economist Humphrey Katontoka said in an interview that there was still a large quantity of wheat in the farmers hands because about half of what was produced last year was awaiting market.
He said that there was little propensity from millers to buy the crop because they had over-imported the crop in 2014/15 marketing season when the country had supply deficit.
“Millers still have enough wheat, most of our farmers are still having the crop from 2014/15 farming season because there is no one to buy it. Our export markets also have enough which they have been buying from other countries,” he said.
Mr Katontoka said that farmers were expected to start growing wheat in the next two months when the dams get filled up.
He said that this year’s wheat production output would depend on the rainfall pattern.
“Wheat farmers are currently harvesting water in their dams for irrigation. The rainfall pattern will determine the production output for this season.
“Last year, we did not produce much compared to the other year due to the poor rainfall pattern the country experienced,” he said.
Last year’s wheat production dropped from 333, 800 in the 2013/2014 farming season to 309, 100 tonnes .
Out of the 46,156 hectares which was grown last year, only 42,564 hectors was observed to be normal.
In 1990, past administration promised to buy wheat from the farmers, but following change of Government in 1991/92, the MMD administration liberalised the economy giving the business community to source the product from anywhere.
National Milling also opted to buy wheat from Zimbabwe because it was cheaper and this left the framers without market on one hand while on the other hand farmers had loans they borrowed which they needed to pay back.
One of the commercial farmers only identified as a Mr Chindindi who had borrowed K75 million to buy equipment was among a group of farmers who was left without a market and his loan short up to K300 million.