The failure by the Patriotic Front (PF) to secure a robust national food security for the 2013-2014 season will continue to haunt them for the next five years, says former deputy high commissioner to India Andrew Banda.
In an interview, Mr. Banda said that the PF government had shown lack of consistence in the manner they were handling the agriculture sector.
He said that it was not strange to hear Agriculture Minister Bob Sichinga confirming that the PF regime would not attain the 2 million metric tons yield of maize this year.
Mr. Banda said that admitting that they have failed to beat the Rupiah Banda regime in the production of maize, was a clear testimony that their failure to secure the country’s national food security this year would haunt them now and in the future.
“I am happy that Agriculture Minister Bob Sichinga has admitted that they will not produce 2 million metric tons of maize in this farming season. Bob is being magnanimous and he is one of the few ministers in the PF government who accepts failure and he has just done that,” said Mr. Banda.
He said that it was however, not fair for the minister to put the blame on the poor rainfall distribution when it was PF government that delayed the distribution of inputs because of the investigations of corruption on the major companies that were supposed to carry out the exercise.
“Rain cannot be an excuses because it was more than above average in many areas and those that planted early have produced enough. These people did not have a proper plan on how to run the ministry when they formed government.
“The major problem was that they rushed to condemn what the previous government did in the sector and wanted to rubbish whatever former President Rupiah Banda did. But that has cost them heavily. They have failed to produce even what Mwanawasa produced,” he said.
Mr. Banda also observed that the introduction of the new zone system in the distribution of inputs for the next farming season would affect the next harvesting season because it was rushed without properly accessing the sustainability and ability of companies tendering to supply inputs under the Farmer Inputs Support Programme (FISP).
He said that the PF government must realize that those that planted had already harvested, adding that the contradictory statements issued by the PF ministers were an embarrassment to the governance of the country.
He said that the PF were creating problems for themselves by not consulting from players in the agriculture and energy sectors
“You see making these sudden changes in the distribution chain will create a serious food crisis in this country. This government seems not to care. They should know that maize or agriculture is politics, energy is politics and above all these things have talked about are major sources of employment for many Zambians,” he said.
He said that there was no hope of improving the agriculture sector under the PF as they have continued to show signs of lack of seriousness and the ability to learn how to do things properly.
Mr. Banda said, “I want also to take this opportunity to challenge anyone in the PF to come out in the open and tell me that the PF government had a plan to ensure that Zambians do not face another food deficit in the next three years.”