President Edgar Lungu has assured Zambians that government is closely monitoring the skyrocketing mealie meal prices and will not condone anyone taking advantage of the anticipated food security threats by exploiting Zambians through unwarranted price hikes.
And President Lungu has called on all the farmers to sell their maize to the Food Reserve Agency (FRA) for government to beef up its national strategic reserves.
The Head of State has emphasised that the country has sufficient maize stock to meet both industrial and human consumption.
Speaking when he officiated at the ground breaking ceremony to mark the beginning of construction works on the Chiansi irrigation project in Chanyanya, Kafue district on Tuesday, the Head of State said the irrigation project could not have come at a more appropriate time than now.
“We cannoot take climate change lightly as it is threatening the livelihoods of farmers and national food security and ultimately, the growth of the agriculture sector. Therefore, my government’s decision to introduce irrigation schemes across the country would boost productivity in the agriculture sector thereby enhancing food security at household and national levels,” President Lungu said.
“In the 2018/2019 agriculture season, the country experienced prolonged dry spells, especially in the southern half of the country. This affected the production of most crops and livestock. All this is due to climate change which requires concerted efforts to combat.”
Meanwhile, President Lungu has assured the Southern and Western parts of the country which are the most affected by the shortfall in maize supply that government is doing everything possible to address the situation.
“My government will not allow a situation where the affected people have no access to maize and mealie meal supply. As such, we are currently distributing relief food to the affected hunger stricken areas,” he said.
President Lungu said it is misplaced to politicize the issue of mealie meal prices as the matter affects every Zambian regardless of their political affiliation.
Meanwhile, the Head of State has announced that the Chiansi Irrigation Infrastructure Development Project has potential to irrigate up to 1,800 hectares of land and will benefit up to 1,000 households.
President Lungu has also expressed gratitude to the Royal Netherlands and the British governments for providing financial support for the Chiansi project.
“In addition to this, the private sector has made a commitment to invest in the expansion of this irrigation scheme to grow up to 8,000 hectares of sugar Cane and create at least 400 jobs. This development is a clear demonstration of what can be achieved when there is close collaboration between government, cooperating partners and the private sector,” said President Lungu.