Hunger looms in Monze due to poor rain pattern – agriculturalist
By Staff Reporter
AN agriculturalist in Monze has expressed concern with poor rainfall pattern in 2018/2019 farming season which might negatively affect crop yields in the district and trigger food insecurity.
Speaking in an interview with Zambia News & Information Services (ZANIS), Senior Agriculture Officer Sarah Ngoma Sikota said the district was facing long dry spells which had already affected crops in some areas.
She named Nteme, Kamuzya, Chuungu, Mujika, and Simwendegwe as some of the camps in the district where crops were severely stressed due to the dry spell which has persisted for close to four weeks.
‘’As a Department we are gravely concerned about the poor rainfall distribution pattern in 2018/2019 farming season, which might negatively affect crop yields in most parts of the district. So far, the District has only received a total of 367 millimetres (mm) accumulative rainfall in 24 days this farming season as compared to 810.3 millimetres of rainfall received within 66 days in the same period in 2017-2018 and 888mm received in 2016/2017 in 74 days,” Sikota said.
She said that only five percent from the total of about 66,393 farmers in the district planted during the first rains received in October while other farmers planted in December when the district experienced the second rain.
Sikota pointed out that if the rain pattern remained the same in the next few weeks there was a likelihood of poor crop harvest, consequently resulting in food insecurity.
And the ministry of Agriculture and cooperatives has called on small scale farmers to seriously embark on Agriculture diversification like Livestock production which are tolerant to long dry spells.
Sikota said that small scale farmers should grow crops for improved feeding of their livestock which would help them generate income for their families when crops failed to perform well.
Monze District recorded poor maize harvests during the 2017/2018 farming season due to prolonged dry spells which triggered hunger in some parts, forcing government to send more than 100 metric tonnes of relief maize to starving households.
Meanwhile, Foot and Mouth disease has broken out in Monze district putting to risk over 1.2 million cattle in the area.
The disease which is currently confined to Ufwenuka veterinary camp is reported to have been introduced to Monze through illegal movement of infected animals from Chisamba.
Confirming the disease outbreak Fisheries and Livestock Minister Kampamba Chewe said that the veterinary department had quarantined the area and banned the movement of animals and animal products in and out of the affected area.
“All affected animals will be destroyed to limit the spread and government will procure vaccines to undertake vaccination of cattle in the surrounding area,” she said.
Chewe added that the veterinary department was currently conducting surveillance to determine the extent of spread of foot and mouth disease.