Greenpeace criticises move to lease maize farms in Zambia

The Star | 11 April 2023

Greenpeace criticises move to lease maize farms in Zambia
Greenpeace Africa has condemned the move by the Ministry of Agriculture to grow maize in Zambia. 
In a statement on Tuesday, the organisation's Communication Manager Hellen Dena said it was unsettling for the ministry to lease land in Zambia when Kenya has about 5.8 million hectares of fertile land. 
She added that the move was a deviation from President William Ruto's promise of a Bottom-Up approach.
She reiterated that the country has enough land to grow maize, adding that the farmers are capable of the task. 
"President Ruto talked big on the bottom-up approach and supporting smallholder farmers to produce more; sourcing maize from Zambia is a deviation by the Ministry of Agriculture on the president's commitment," she said.
Dena noted that the Ministry ought to support the farmers and create a conducive partnership between the government, farmers and other key players in the agricultural sector.
Noting that maize is Kenya's staple food, Greenpeace Africa expresses worry that leasing land in Zambia exposed the country to economic vulnerabilities. 
"A country that is not able to grow its own staple food exposes itself to all kinds of social and economic vulnerability. Production of maize locally means that many other local businesses benefit in the process," Dena said.
The organisation recommended that Agriculture CS Mithika Linturi should subsidise the cost of farm inputs.
He should also support farmers to use sustainable forms of agriculture that ensure healthy food at a lower cost.
On March 6, CS Linturi met with the Zambian Agriculture Minister Rueben Mtolo in Lusaka.
During their talks, Linturi said the two countries would sign an MoU to allocate Kenyan farmers 20,000 hectares of land for large-scale farming.
"The deal will help us to achieve food security by allowing Kenyan farmers to get permits to practice farming in Zambia and export the food to Kenya," he said. 
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