• ZNFU is deeply disturbed by the continued authorization of importation of onions and potatoes into the country.
• The country risks having over K23 million worth of onions going to waste if the matter remains unaddressed.
• President Hichilema must intervene in this matter before farmers lose out.
Zambia National Farmers’ Union (ZNFU) says the country risks having over K23 million worth of onion going to waste owing to the continued importation of the commodity.
Union President Jervis Zimba said ZNFU has been engaging Ministry of Agriculture over the persistent importation of commodities that can be grown within the country such as onions and potatoes.
Mr. Zimba challenged Agriculture Minister Reuben Phiri to clearly state whether he would like to see the country continue being a net importer of commodities that can readily be produced locally because the Union feels that he is not listening to the industry.
“We are saddened that we have not had a favorable response on this matter as importation of onions has continued unabated. As a result, we risk having over K23 million worth of onions going to waste if the matter remains unaddressed.
“Discussions were held together with written communication but there has been no action taken and no response to our letter,” Mr. Zimba lamented.
He called on President Hakainde Hichilema to intervene in the matter before farmers lose out.
“The Head of State is on the record saying the country is inviting investors to invest in Zambia’s agriculture sector. It will be unfortunate that when the investors come to conduct a due diligence, they will find these challenges facing them.”
“We therefore appeal to His Excellency President Hichilema to intervene in this matter before farmers lose out. The local strides being made to grow agriculture products locally should be nurtured and not frustrated by needless imports,” he stated.
Mr. Kaleyi further called for serious mindset change in the Civil Service regarding the issue of imports so as to protect the interest of local farmers.
“Currently, we feel farmers are vulnerable as they are not protected and there is little recognition attached to farming locally. We invite the Minister of Agriculture to immediately come to the farms to check the huge volumes of onions and potatoes being held in storage,” Mr. Zimba added.
In April last year, government lifted onion import ban due to shortages few weeks after it banned importation of onions and potatoes