FARMERS are doubtful about Zambia producing a bumper maize harvest this year because of the drought which has hit several parts of the country.
But the farmers have squarely put the blame on the Food Reserve Agency (FRA) for delaying payments which made them plant late.
Small-scale farmers representative in Nakonde, Mr Golden Mutale, said had the FRA expedited distribution of farming inputs, the case would have been different today, but the delays have affected the farming activities due to dry weather.
Mr Mutale said that had the agency paid them on time the harvest would have been much better because farmers were going to take advantage of the early rains.
Farmers in many parts of the country were worried with the dry spell that was experienced this year.
“Farmers have been crying because of poor distribution of inputs through FISP and if the distribution is done on time, definitely we were going to have good harvest, but now the activities have been affected by poor rain patterns simply because the crops were planted late,” he said.
Mr Mutale said there would be a deficit in the country’s maize harvest and that Government should weigh how much stock was still available compared to what the country consumed annually.
He said the dry spell experienced this year had caused the crops to wilt before maturity, saying this would be a major setback for the farmers in the country.
Mr Mutale said there was need for the Government to consider developing a clear policy direction for the agriculture sector