LUSAKA, (Xinhua) --
The potential of Zambia’s agricultural sector
cannot be over-emphasized as the southern African nation has
abundant arable land and fresh water resources which have not be
government figures, only 15 percent of Zambia’s arable land is
under cultivation and despite the country accounting for about
35 percent of the fresh water in the southern African region,
irrigation only accounts for 6 percent of the agriculture
However, with the
changes in weather patterns caused by climate change, experts
are urging the authorities to invest in irrigation instead of
depending on rain-fed agriculture.
For instance, the
2017/2018 has already suffered following prolonged dry spells in
some parts of the country, with crop production expected to
country’s meteorological body, the Zambia Meteorological
Department, five of the country’ 10 province are experiencing
stress in maize crops due to lack of sufficient soil moisture
induced by tropical cyclone Ava.
According to a
report, the meteorological body says Lusaka, Western, Southern,
southern parts of Central and Eastern Provinces have recorded
below-normal rainfall from January 1 due to the tropical
amounts of soil moisture may cause stress and wilting in maize
crops, it added.
The Zambia National
farmers Union (ZNFU) is an association representing farmers and
is already worried with the current dry spells as well as late
delivery of farming inputs and an outbreak of fall army worms.
The association has
already predicted a 50-percent drop in maize production in the
2017/2018 farming season due to the dry spell.
Calvin Kaleyi, the
association’s spokesperson said this was so because the affected
provinces were the major producers of maize.
“The crop is wilting
and this is very bad because it has hit the maize belts,” he
Zambia has witnessed
bumper harvests of maize, its staple crop, in recent seasons,
with the country producing 3.6 million tons of the cereal crop
in the 2016/2017 season from 2.8 million tons produced in the
But analysts believe
that it was time the country seriously consider massive
investments in irrigation farming in order to have all-round
production following the unpredictable weather pattern.
executive director of the Indaba Agricultural Policy Research
Institute (APRI), a local agricultural think-tank, said it is
high time stakeholders took practical steps in investing heavily
in irrigation farming, saying depending on rain-fed agriculture
was the thing of the past.
Agriculture Dora Siliya has pledged government’s commitment to
invest in irrigation as a way to boost agricultural production.
The government, she
said, intends to increase investment in harvesting rain-water
and construction of more dams to reduce dependence on rain-fed
agriculture after poor rains experienced in some parts of the
According to her,
dams will have to be constructed throughout the country in order
to reduce dependence on rain-fed agriculture.
“There are about
600,000 smallholder farmers who produce most of the country’s
cassava, cotton, millet, and sorghum, as well as over 90 percent
of its maize,” she said when she addressed a group of investors
in Germany during the 10th Global Forum for Food and
Agriculture (GFFA) in Germany.
farmers generally do not have modern irrigation systems,
production is largely rain-fed, making crops highly vulnerable
to fluctuation in rainfall,” said Siliya.