By KENNEDY MUPESENI –
The Zambia Rice Federation has called on Government to consider providing extention services to local rice growers to boost production.
Immediate past Zambia Rice Federation (ZRF) chairperson Dixon Chanda said Government should support the rice industry by providing extention services as well as providing inputs like what was being done to crops like maize.
Mr Chanda said the cost of transport and access to certified rice seed were also affecting growth of the rice industry especially in Northern Province, which has great potential for rice production.
In addition, transportation costs and limited access to seed, have adversely affected growth of the rice agriculture subsector.
“The region is the largest producer of rice in the country but because of its geographical position farmers and processors are spending a lot for the product to reach the market,” Mr Chanda who is also Frontier Grinding and Packaging managing director said in an interview in Kasama.
He said currently a truck load of rice was costing over K18, 000 to reach Lusaka or the Copperbelt which he said was affecting turnover of both processors and rice farmers.
Mr Chanda added limited access to rice seed was also affecting growth of the rice industry in the region as most of the small-scale farmers use recycled seed which was affecting the quality of processed rice.
“Most rice famers use mixed varieties which is compromising the quality of processed rice in the region,” he said.
Mr Chanda said the consumption of rice was increasing in the country hence the need to support it.
Frontier Grinding and Packaging company produces the Kasama Rice brand and buys produce from at least 50 small-scale farmers in Chambeshi swamps.