Zambia seek to increase wheat production
Lusaka – As one of top grain producers in the region, Zambia is putting measures in place to avoid food losses and ensure maximum food security and sufficiency as the country seek to raise its wheat production.
Zambia is expected to treble its national wheat output to 300,000 metric tons during the 2013/2014 harvest season, according to the country’s leading farming group. The spokesperson for Zambia National Farmers Union (ZNFU), Calvin Kaleya said the country plan to rise from the initial 100,000 tons produced in the 1990s, which later increased to 250,000 tons before slumping to the old output.
Spurred by the continuous efforts by farmers to raise wheat output coupled with favourable government policies, Kaleya said the country seeks to increase output to an average 300,000 metric tons annually and meet the increasing demand at home and for exports.
“The policy implemented by government to ban imports of wheat and wheat products has helped prop up the wheat industry in the region.
“If this is maintained, the country should be able to start producing about 300,000 metric tonnes annually,” he said.
“The wheat sector has continued to perform very well. Zambia remains the only country in the region that is self-sustained in wheat production and is able to meet local demand with excess for export,” Kaleya said.
It is estimated that global annual post-harvest loss for grain is in excess of US$7 billion with Africa alone losing about US$4 billion over the same period, according to the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO).
FAO in its report states that about one third of the total food produced for consumption is lost or wasted globally. According to the 2011 report, titled: “Global Food losses and food waste”, about one third of the food produced in the world every year, chiefly corn, an approximately 1.3 billion tones get lost or wasted by various handlers. Food loses and waste gobbles US$680 billion in industrialized countries with another US$310 billion is lost in developing nations.
The problem is mainly attributed to lack of proper management skills by those handling various grains including wheat.
The report stressed that if these post-harvest loses are managed properly could meet the annual food requirements of an estimated 48 million people.
FAO Country representative in Zambia, George Okech, during a recently held two-day regional workshop on post-harvest losses management in Lusaka called for urgent global intervention to reduce food losses.
“The loss in nutritional value and market opportunities as well as adverse effects on the health of populations consuming poor quality products,” Okech told delegates drawn from more than 20 countries. It is inevitable to address the waste of the crops across the entire food chain which is a critical pillar of future national food strategies for Africa and the world at large, Okech said.