By Patrick Soko
THE Monkey Orange Crafts utilised the 93rd Agricultural Commercial Show to encourage Farmers to start cultivating Yam to avoid over-dependence on maize further stating that yam is a climate-resilient crop which would boost National Food security when given adequate attention.
Zambia started losing some indigenous crops like millet, Cassava, Sorghum, and yam when maize was introduced in the country.
Yam is a traditional tuber crop and an essential food crop in most African countries.
The crop is high in vitamin c and b6 potassium and manganese, with low in saturated fats and sodium and provides a good balance in the human body and protects against heart diseases and diabetes.
The Monkey Orange Crafts Organization Founder Micheal Mwandila has noted that growing organic Yam can contribute to an increase in food security and income among the small-scale farmers as well as the creation of employment.
“From one single plant of yam, a farmer can harvest about 25 kilograms that is the reason Monkey Orange Crafts Yam Project has invested in training farmers with interest in the growing of the crop,” he says.
Mr Mwandila whose organization exhibited at the just ended 2019 agricultural and Commercial show which took place from the 31st July to 5th August, 2019 under the theme “Embracing Industrial Development” told 5FM News that It is high time Zambian smallholder farmers reduced dependence on maize and re-introduce the growing of indigenous crops such as Yam to help reduce poverty levels in the country and create employment.
“Farmers need to embrace Yam cultivation as it can be turned into various value-added products such as bread, mealie Meal, and corn flakes.
“Yam also gives more sustainable energy and it promotes longevity in life as it also acts as an anti-ageing agent, from one single plant of yam, a farmer can harvest about 25-kilograms, thus the reason monkey orange crafts yam project has invested in training farmers with an interest in growing the crop,” Mr. Mwandila explained.
Maize has continued to be Zambia’s staple crop for many years. The crop has been a major source of food for many households from time immemorial.
But this dependence on maize as a staple crop for the country has come with a lot of challenges in the recent past.
Issues of climate change and the ever-increasing price of farming inputs have made cultivating maize a big financial burden for most farmers in the Country.
Meanwhile, some farmers who were Exhibiting at the just ended Show interviewed by 5FM News called on the government through the Ministry of Agriculture to assist them with processing Machines that will enable them to add value to crops such as sunflower to make edible oil.
The Indaba Agriculture Policy Reseach Institute (IAPRI) is a regular exhibitor at the Agriculture and Commercial Show and the Agricultural based Think Tank provides show-goers with several research reports and general information on the sector.
5fm News spoke to IAPRI Executive Director Chance Kabahe who noted the need to maintain supports to the “Famers Input Support Program” (FISP) in a bid to promote crop diversification and eventually value addition in line with this year’s theme, “Embracing Industrial Development”
“With this Climate Change we need to make sure that we take precautions by equipping farmers with relevant information on sustainable Agriculture such as, encouraging them to be planting crops that are resilient to droughts or floods and on top of that, we have to treat Agriculture as a business, making sure that we add value to our crops in order to make farming become a more lucrative venture for our for farmers especially small and medium holder farmers,” he said.
Notably the official Agricultural and Commercial Society of Zambia, President Caroline Silwamba, described this year’s show as being “unique” as it brought a new dimension of facilitating workshops for the farmers to be able to share information on the importance of Agricultural diversification to enhance food security.
The prestigious Annual Event was hosted from the 31st July 2019 up to the 5th of August 2019 and attracted over 980 local and international exhibitors and it officially opened by the Vice President Inonge Wina.