Chileshe Muchindika-Ngwane, a Lusaka resident who now is a full-time farmer involved in livestock production and processing as well vegetable and maize cultivation, poses for a picture at her vegetable plantation in Lusaka, Zambia, on Aug. 28, 2021. (Photo by Lillian Banda/Xinhua)
Maxwell Zulu, a 60-year-old resident of Lusaka, Zambia's capital, is a happy man after successfully planting his maize and groundnuts at his farm in Nyimba District in the eastern part of the country.
Zulu, who had stopped farming following a sharp rise in the price of fertilizer and the low price at which the government was buying maize, decided to start farming again after the price of fertilizer dropped and the government made a good offer to purchase maize.
"Farming is the way to go now," Zulu said, expressing his belief that if the rainy season does not disappoint, he will have a good harvest, which will go a long way in improving his standard of living.
Zulu is among the smallholder farmers in Zambia who have heeded President Hakainde Hichilema's call for people to venture into agriculture to improve food security and take advantage of not only the government's good policies but also the huge market in the southern African nation.
Several people have since posted photos on various social media platforms of their farms planting different crops.
Elisha Matambo, Copperbelt Province minister, who posted a picture of himself in his maize field, encouraged people in the province to look for land and venture into farming in line with government policy and the president's vision.
"They will never be disappointed. We have been farming for more than 15 years, and we have seen the benefits of farming," he said in a post on his Facebook page.
According to him, Zambia is blessed with good rains, soils, and weather; venturing into agriculture will be a game changer for many families.
Recently, the Zambian president encouraged citizens, especially women and young people, to venture into agriculture as it has become a "lucrative business."
"We are extremely happy to note that several of you, our citizens, have this farming season ventured into maize production. As the government, we are extremely impressed because there is no other way out of the food crisis apart from more production," Hichilema said in a post on his Facebook page.
While acknowledging the challenges in the agricultural sector, such as climate change issues, the Zambian president was optimistic that nothing would stop the country from realizing its dream of becoming a "food basket," not only in the southern African region but in Africa as a whole.
Apart from crop farming, Hichilema is also encouraging citizens to venture into beef production, saying that it is one of the most rewarding farming enterprises in agriculture, and that the government will continue to implement measures to grow the agricultural sector.
In addition to the Farmer Input Support Program (FISP), a government initiative that provides subsidized inputs for smallholder farmers, the government last year introduced a credit scheme for people intending to venture into farming.
Reuben Mtolo Phiri, minister of agriculture, said the Sustainable Agriculture Financing Facilities (SAFF) is a market-based initiative for tailor-made financing to the agricultural sector, especially for small- and medium-scale farmers with limited access to affordable financing.
Photo taken on March 26, 2022 shows a view of the Lusaka Food Market in Lusaka, Zambia. (Photo by Lillian Banda/Xinhua)
In a ministerial statement in parliament recently, the minister said the credit window aims to provide seasonal loans and financial services for maize, soybean, and wheat production.
The government, he said, is determined to promote the agricultural sector by putting in place policies to enhance productivity.