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Zambia faces agricultural crisis as severe drought reduces crop yields for 2023/2024 season


Government says the agricultural sector has faced a significant crisis as severe drought conditions have drastically reduced crop yields for the 2023/2024 season.

Agriculture Minister, Reuben Mtolo, stated that the El Niño weather phenomenon led to a substantial decrease in rainfall, particularly affecting provinces such as Southern, Western and Eastern.

In a statement presented in parliament on Tuesday, Mtolo said Maize production was projected to fall by over 50 percent, from 3.26 million metric tonnes the previous season to just 1.51 million metric tonnes.

Read More: Fear of drought, food insecurity grips Gwembe, as several hectares of maize fields dry up

“Other key crops, including rice, cassava and soya beans, have also seen sharp declines, with reductions ranging from 30 percent to nearly 78 percent,” he added.

Mtolo stated, however, that government was implementing measures to ensure food security, including importing over 600,000 metric tonnes of white non-GMO maize and supporting local farmers with resources for winter and early maize production.

“Government is encouraging farmers and farmer entities to produce winter and early maize to cover the deficit in the 2024/2025 marketing season and build up on strategic food reserves,” he said.

He mentioned that a total of 300,000 metric tonnes was targeted under the winter and early maize program.

“We understand that this is a difficult situation, but we are committed to building a more resilient and sustainable food system for our country. We will continue to monitor the situation closely and provide updates as necessary,” he further added.

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