Zambia Widens Fertilizer Aid To Small Farmers

Zambia has more than doubled to 500,000 the number of small-scale farmers to receive subsidized fertilizer this year in efforts to boost white maize output.

The state-run Zanis news agency said Aug. 24 that President Rupiah Banda also announced that the government had increased to 100,000 tonnes, from 80,000 tonnes, the amount of fertilizer to be given to farmers.

Zambia plans to become a major maize exporter to meet rising demand from its neighbours.

Zanis said Banda announced the number of peasant farmers to benefit from the fertilizer support program in Kasama, about 700 km north of the capital Lusaka, will increase to 500,000 from 200,000.

“Following the increase in the number of farmers to benefit from the subsidized inputs, the government has reduced the quantity of fertilizer provided per farmer from eight 50-kg bags of fertilizer to four bags per farmer,” Banda said.

“I believe this will help improve the distribution of fertilizer to our farmers,” he added.

Industry officials say Zambia, which produced 1.9 million tonnes of white maize in the 2008-09 agricultural season, from 1.3 million during 2007-08, has long-term plans to raise maize output to five million tonnes.

The government says higher output would enable the country to meet import demands from mainly the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Angola. Zambia has in the last five years also exported maize to Namibia, Botswana and Zimbabwe.

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