After years of discouragement, Zambia’s smallholder farmers are venturing back into their fields, spurred by rising crop prices, improved government support, and President Hakainde Hichilema’s unwavering vision for an agriculturally-driven future.
Maxwell Zulu, a 60-year-old Lusaka resident, embodies this renewed optimism. Having abandoned farming due to high fertilizer costs and low maize purchase prices under the previous administration, Zulu is now diligently planting maize and groundnuts in his Nyimba District farm. The recent drop in fertilizer prices and a more lucrative government maize buying offer have rekindled his hope for a bumper harvest and a brighter future.
Zulu’s story is not an isolated one. Social media platforms are abuzz with pictures of fellow Zambians diligently tending their crops, responding to Hichilema’s call to action. Copperbelt Province Minister Elisha Matambo has taken to Facebook, leading by example as he encourages residents to embrace farming, citing “good rains, soils, and weather” as key advantages.
Hichilema, a vocal advocate for agricultural revival, recently praised those already involved in maize production, emphasizing that increased output is the only way to overcome food insecurity challenges. He acknowledges the sector’s hurdles, including climate change, but remains optimistic about Zambia’s potential to become a regional and even continental “food basket.”
Beyond maize, Hichilema is also actively promoting beef production, recognizing its profitability and pledging further government support for the sector’s growth. These efforts go beyond mere rhetoric; the government has implemented concrete measures like the Farmer Input Support Program (FISP) and the Sustainable Agriculture Financing Facilities (SAFF) to address critical issues like input affordability and access to finance for small- and medium-scale farmers.
SAFF, a market-based initiative, caters specifically to tailor-made financing needs within the agricultural sector. Through seasonal loans and financial services targeted at key crops like maize, soybean, and wheat, SAFF aims to address the longstanding challenge of limited access to capital for farming endeavors.
Agriculture Minister Reuben Mtolo Phiri reiterates the government’s commitment to enhancing agricultural productivity through policy interventions. From tackling affordability issues to providing financial instruments like SAFF, these initiatives paint a clear picture of a government actively nurturing the seeds of agricultural revival.