• It is a known fact that the country has been producing adequate wheat stocks for national consumption.
• It is barely three months when wheat was harvested.
• Any requests for wheat importation should be channelled to private sector industry stakeholder consultations.
Zambia National Farmers’ Union (ZNFU) says it is dismayed by Ministry of Agriculture’s decision to import 125,000 metric tonnes of wheat while the country has adequate supply of the commodity to meet local demand.
In a statement, Union President Jervis Zimba said it is barely three months when wheat was harvested, and Zambia has enjoyed stable supply because of local production of the commodity unlike other countries that have had to contain with supply side constraints associated with Russia and Ukraine War.
Mr. Zimba questioned the rationale behind the decision to import the commodity as it is a direct contradiction to what government has been encouraging farmers to do, which is that they expand wheat production.
He added that any requests for wheat importation should be channelled to private sector industry stakeholder consultations to safeguard domestic production and marketing dynamics so that investments in local production continue.
Mr. Zimba engaging stakeholders will ensure that imports are allowed with full industry participation in the consultation process.
“It is a known fact that the country has been producing adequate wheat stocks for national consumption. A review of the last few years’ production and consumption patterns attest to the fact that there is an enormous difference between what is purported to be a shortfall and what is imported into the country.”
“This is wrong and farmers are left wondering at the mixed signal by our MoA as this is a direct contradiction to what the Republican President has been encouraging farmers to do, which is, that we expand wheat production. Who will expand production if the preference is to turn to imports coming from outside the African Continent?” he wondered.
Mr. Zimba appealed to Government to let the wheat industry stakeholders deliberate and determine if there is any ground to turn to imports because the country currently has plenty wheat stocks.
He further challenged Ministry of Agriculture Permanent Secretary Green Mbozi, to respond to ZNFU letters where the Union has categorically stated that the stock monitoring committee should be re-constituted with a focus on its intended objectives and not serving interests of a selected few.
“Besides, the country has plenty wheat stocks and we question the rationale taken hurriedly, which decision has potential to ignite challenges for the local crop? The benefits of the import substitution strategy which the country has nurtured in the wheat value chain are the envy of many, while other countries aim to emulate Zambia. Why rock the boat when there is no crisis to deal with?”
“As a Union we embrace engagement with Government, but we will not support heavy handed approaches being orchestrated by the MoA under the guise of a stock monitoring committee decision when the committee leaves out key stakeholders. Whose benefit is being served at the end of the day, we ask?” he questioned.