Eastern Province has produced over 500 thousand metric tonnes of maize this farming season and is the second highest producer of maize in the country.
This came to light yesterday, in Chipata during the 40th Provincial Agricultural and Commercial Show.
Provincial Show Society Chairperson, Thomas M’tonga says this shows the good efforts that farmers have put in to produce good yields despite the farming season starting on a bad note with poor rains.
Mr. M’tonga says the province is second from Central province which is the highest maize producer in the country this year.
And Mr. M’tonga commended government for introducing the Electronic Voucher system for distribution of farming inputs which he said will give the private sector a greater play in the input delivery to small scale farmers.
Mr. M’tonga appealed to the agro dealers in the province to ensure that they take the inputs closer to the farmers so that farmers do not spend much money on transportation of the inputs.
Mr. M’tonga also commended government for improving the agriculture infrastructure, the road network and energy sector in the province.
He however, called on government to consider increasing the buying price of maize so that the product is not sold to private buyers.
Mr. M’tonga also called on government to improve tobacco market so that farmers are not stranded with their crop.
He added that there is need to improve the operations of the show and improve its organisation.
Meanwhile the number of beneficiaries under FISP, the Farmer Input Support Program has this year increased in Eastern Province.
Speaking during the Eastern Province Agriculture and Commercial Show, Assistant Secretary, Royd Tembo says that 192, 044 farmers will this year benefit compared to last year’s 183,209.
And Mr. Tembo says only farmers in three districts which are Chipata, Katete and Petauke will participate in the newly introduced electronic voucher system of receiving inputs.
Mr. Tembo says Chipata will have about 47, 700, Katete about 26,870 while Petauke will have about 28,680 beneficiaries, with farmers contributing 400 Kwacha each while government will contribute 1,700 Kwacha.
Mr. Tembo also says government will this year increase the quantity of tobacco to be bought from farmers.
He added that government attaches great importance to diversification of the Agriculture industry and has supported farmers with 250 thousand fingerlings for fish farming this year.
Mr. Tembo also explained that the province has 400 thousand livestock and has constructed a good number of dip tanks while calves are being immunised against East Coast Fever to keep them healthy.
He revealed that the province has approved 90 groups of farmers to benefit from 12 thousand Kwacha matching grants for various production activities.
And Mr. Tembo called on the business community in the province to take the Agricultural and Commercial Show seriously and exhibit their businesses.
Some farmers, government and private institutions were awarded during the show.