KATIMA MULILO - Zambezi regional governor Lawrence Sampofu has encouraged crop farmers to start preparing their fields for the rainy season to tackle food insecurity after a rather poor harvest experienced this year.
Currently, many residents in the Zambezi region face food insecurity due to late rains and seasonal floods experienced early this year, which left many with little to no harvest at all.
Sampofu recently strongly advised the residents, especially crop farmers, to get ready for the rainy season in November and December.
“We see the first rains have started already. This is a sign to inform us to start preparing our crop fields, so that come November and December, we start ploughing our fields. Everyone should start sowing some crops, be it sorghum, maize, mahangu or beans,” he proposed.
Livestock farmers should make use of government’s drought relief assistance when it comes to cattle feed and the transportation of their animals.
The governor also warned residents to stop causing wildfires as it is destroying the grazing land, which then affects the conditions of livestock.
“Wildfires are very common. We don’t know why people are burning grazing land. Some are cleaning, but some are just burning grass,” he stated.
Sibbinda constituency councillor Mickey Lukaezi likewise encouraged farmers to start preparing their fields for the rainy season.
He specifically advised farmers to diversify their crop production.
“In dryland, you should not just plant one type of crop. You must diversify and plant either maize, sorghum or mahangu. The farmers should know which seeds they are planting. They must take the seeds that are dry tolerant, and must plant those seeds at the right time,” Lukaezi advised.
The councillor said farmers could start planting maize immediately when the first rains come from November. Thereafter, farmers could plant sorghum from 16 to 25 December, and further grow mahangu after Christmas.
“This is to ensure that if one crop dies, others will survive. If farmers are struggling, they can approach the agricultural extension officers, who can assist them with ploughing services offered by the government,” he continued. Lukaezi expressed gratitude towards the government for availing 32 ploughing tractors to the Zambezi region, which will be distributed for use to all the eight constituencies. The tractors are currently parked at the Kalimbeza rice project waiting to be distributed so that farmers can use them.
“The tractors are good news for farmers. We only had two tractors in the whole Sibbinda constituency. This is a relief. We urge the ministry to distribute them urgently to constituencies so that people can start ploughing early. The recruitment of seasonal drivers for these tractors should also commence without delay,” he stressed.
Due to the many livestock which have been hard-hit by drought, Lukaezi called on farmers to stock up the mahangu, sorghum and maize leftover stalks once they are done harvesting so that they can use them as animal feed at a later stage when animals need it most.
Equally, he called on farmers who still have oxen that are in good condition to assist other farmers who have none to plough. “Let’s go back to our culture of giving a helping hand to others in need,” he appealed.
Kabbe North constituency councillor Bernard Sisamu earlier said due to floods and poor rainfall experienced earlier this year, many people harvested little to nothing.
He specifically touched on the poor harvest experienced in Kabbe North as people could not cultivate, which led to a poor harvest.
Many residents of Kabbe North and Kabbe South were cut off, and were unable to reach town for basic essential services and goods due to the seasonal floods as the Zambezi River rose.
Kabbe is frequently affected by flooding as it is on low-lying land – only two to five metres above sea level.
Heavy flooding inundated the region in early February after good rains in the surrounding catchment areas.