ZAMBIA- The government of Zambia, under the Market Oriented Rice Development Project (MOReDeP), is on course to meet a target of farmers in the quest for increased rice production.

The Market-Oriented Rice Development project (MOReDeP) has kickstarted the recruitment practice in Luapula Province, located in the northern part and among the top 5 rice producers of the country.

Luapula Province Agricultural Officer Osbetty Hamwete, in an interview, revealed that 3,400 rice farmers from six districts in the province have been engaged for the project and have started growing the crop.

Rice is one of the staple food crops with the potential to contribute significantly to increased incomes and employment among rural producers in Zambia.

The demand for rice consumption in the country has registered a steady rise from below 20,000 tonnes in 2013 to almost 70,000 tonnes by 2017 according to the ministry of agriculture.

According to Mr. Hamwete, the MOReDeP project is timely and will enable the province to reach 12, 700 rice farmers before the project comes to an end in 2025 adding that the project will also be supporting the farmers with farming inputs.

He noted that farmers from 30 agricultural camps are already cultivating rice and are doing well adding that there is hope that rice production in the province will increase to about 3.5 tons per hectare by 2025.

Further, the project intends to link farmers with reliable markets, which has been the prevailing challenge.

We are not only providing inputs to these farmers but also linking them to markets so that they do not have challenges when selling their harvest. The market has been one of the challenges that most farmers in Luapula Province have been facing,” he said.

The project also is promoting mechanization for farmers with large fields for efficiency and reduction of cost of production.

Mr. Hamete also added that the project is in the process of acquiring the services of a combined harvester for effective and timely harvesting of the crop.

The Principal Agricultural Officer observed that so far, the response from farmers in the province has been overwhelming as can be seen from the numbers of those who have come on board and are willing to continue producing rice.

The Market Oriented Rice Development project is being implemented with support from the Japan International Corporation and seven districts in Luapula namely Mansa, Mwense, Lunga, Chembe, Mwansabobwe, and Kawambwa are benefiting from the project

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