As part of efforts to increase information access among farmers, the agriculture minister has approached cabinet seeking authority to employ more extension farmers.
Dora Siliya, Agriculture minister said engaging additional officers should mitigate the shortage facing her ministry.
Some of the country’s agricultural challenges have been attributed to the slim portfolio of extension workers.
“There is one extension officer on average to 1,000 farmers, while in some places on the Copperbelt, there is one agricultural officer to about 1,500 farmers,” Siliya said.
She said extension officers should be increased to acceptable standards to effectively address and communicate to government the challenges being faced by farmers.
“When a new pest comes around as is the case with the army-worm and the stalk borer which nobody has seen before.
It is very difficult for the farmer to quickly send information to the extension officers who should then bring it to the attention of Government because this one officer has so many farmers to attend to,” said Siliya.
The minister is yet to take a memorandum to Cabinet office seeking authorisation to employ a given number of extension officers.
Siliya said the ministry envisage employing extra extension workers until reaching equilibrium to effectively service farmers.
Annually government spends almost K20 million on emergency funds to buy 51,000 litres of pesticide for the control of army-worm across the country.