PRESIDENT Hakainde Hichilema says government will implement a comprehensive agricultural transformation programme with the aim of making the sector a viable commercial undertaking.
Speaking yesterday when he opened the first session of the 13th National Assembly, President Hichilema said the agriculture is critical in driving, creating employment opportunities for the country.
“Our country has in excess of 40 million hectares of arable land. We have abundant surface and underground water resources. We have favourable weather conditions. We have readily available domestic, regional and international markets for our agricultural commodities. Most of our people derive their livelihood from agriculture,” he said
President Hichilema said it is only through agricultural transformation that the country will end hunger and improve nutrition while accelerating economic growth.
“We will restructure the sector to focus on activities and interventions that raise production and productivity in crops, livestock and fisheries. We will create a conducive and stable environment, which is a critical pre-condition for agricultural transformation,” President Hichilema said.
He said to improve agricultural production and productivity, his government will ensure access to affordable agricultural inputs such as fertilizers, chemicals and pesticides.
President Hichilema said his administration will also promote crop diversification away from maize by supporting production of a wide range of cereal crops, legumes, fruit trees, roots and tubers, oil crops as well as fibre crops.
“This will be achieved through improved extension services, mechanisation, irrigation, value addition and improved market access. This will result in enhanced national food and nutrition security as well as increased income for our farmers. To promote and increase livestock production, government will focus on stocking and restocking, artificial insemination as well as enhanced disease surveillance and control. Government will also facilitate research in animal breeding, disease prevention and nutrition. Further, livestock market promotion and value addition will be prioritised,” he said.
President Hichilema said his Government will also support the construction and rehabilitation of livestock infrastructure such as laboratories, service centres and breeding centres across the country.
He said his Government wants to enhance production and productivity, value addition, marketing, as well as transparency and predictability of the export regime in the sector.
“I, therefore, urge our people to seize the opportunities that exist in the sector so that, as a country, we are not only food sufficient but also become the breadbasket of the region and beyond. We have the capacity to do so,” he said
President Lungu calls on farmers to grow more potatoes and onions to avoid the importation of the crops
PRESIDENT Edgar Lungu has advised farmers to work towards ensuring that the production of onions and potatoes grow to a level where there will be no need for imports.
And the President has called on all stakeholders in the agricultural sector to work closely with government in identifying bottlenecks in the sector.
Speaking today when he toured potato and onion plantations Tara farms in Kabwe, President Lungu said he was happy that the production of Irish potatoes has increased from 27,562 metric tonnes in 2011, to 62,358 metric tonnes in 2021, comparatively representing an increase of 126 percent.
“Similarly, the production of soya beans has also performed extremely well and has increased from 116,539 metric tonnes in 2011 to a record high of 411,115 metric tonnes achieved in 2021. this comparatively represents an increase of 252 percent,” he said
President Lungu said the statistics are a clear indication that the Patriotic Front (PF) government’s agriculture agenda and policies have received widespread support.
He assured farmers that government will continue to aggressively address all challenges affecting them and the agriculture sector in general.
“There is no doubt that Zambian farmers have the capacity to grow different crops, such as onions and potatoes.Local producers have the potential to satisfy local demand.This is why i want to encourage all onion and potato farmers to work towards ensuring that the production of these two commodities grow to a level where there will be no need for imports,” he said
President Lungu further said government will continue working with the Zambia National Farmers’ Union to address all challenges that may be inhibiting the rapid growth of the onion and potato industries.
And President Lungu expressed his commitment to implementing programmes, that will ensure fair access to affordable finance, especially for women and youths.
“The PF government has a very strong policy belief that women and girls remain our development partners. This will also be extended to the provision of subsidised inputs to farmers. Additionally, my government intends to continue promoting various fruit and tree crops, as these commodities provide opportunities to make a decent return on investment,” he said.
(Picture by State House)
President Edgar Lungu flagsoff 2021 Crop Marketing
PRESIDENT Edgar Lungu says the increased production recorded in the 2020/2021 agricultural season is due to timely payments to farmers that supplied crops toFood Reserve Agency (FRA) unlike in the previous seasons.
Speaking when he launched the 2021 FRA crop purchasing programme in kaoma, western province today, President Lungu commended farmers for having contributed contributed significantly to the outstanding crop performance in the 2020/2021 agricultural season.
“I am proud of the country’s record breaking bumper harvest of our major staple maize and soya beans. in addition, the production of many other crops recorded significant growth.
He said the exceptional performance in the production of various crops is a clear demonstration that the agriculture sector is responding to the deliberate policies that government has been implementing.
The President said government has prioritised early distribution of farming inputs, under the farmer input support programme.
“It is, therefore, pleasing to observe that various stakeholders countrywide have expressed happiness with the prices the food reserve agency is offering for commodities, such as maize, which is priced at 150 kwacha per 50 kg bag, and soya beans at 500 kwacha per 50 kg bag. with these prices, i am confident that farmers will be encouraged to continue producing strategic crops in an effort to enhance food security and income generation,” he said
He also assured farmers countrywide that government will continue to champion their interests in quest to fully transform the country’s agriculture sector.
President Lungu commended the Ministry of Agriculture and FRA for responding swiftly to his directive for the agency to enter the market early as vulnerable farmers will be protected from unscrupulous traders who usually swindle farmers out of their hard earned crops.
He urged FRA to establish as many satellite depots as possible, as this will bring the agency’s buying points closer to farmers.
President Lungu said government will ensure that the agency is adequately funded so that farmers are paid on time.
He further called on players involved in crop marketing to ensure necessary precautions are taken to protect lives and reduce the spread of COVID-19.
“I further wish to appeal to the food reserve agency to lead by example, by adhering to the health guidelines which have been put in place to promote the health and safety of members of staff including, farmers who will supply crops this season,” he said
President Edgar Lungu acts to boost aquaculture sector growth
PRESIDENT Edgar Lungu has directed that the US$ 23.7 million aquaculture seed fund which he launched in Mwinilunga in chief Kanyama’s chiefdom last year, to be part of the fisheries and aquaculture development fund.
The seed fund is under the framework of the US$50.89 million Zambia Aquaculture Enterprise Development project (ZAEDP) co-funded by the African Development Bank and government.
The President said the move will ensure a self-sustaining fisheries and aquaculture subsector.
Speaking at the launch of harvesting of the fish for Kamimbi and Buyantashi aquaculture cooperatives at Yalelo farm, Siavonga, the President said the country’s fish demand continues to rise due to increased human population and growing interest in people for health foods such as fish.
He encouraged the private sector to actively participate in aquaculture production.
President Lungu said the private sector should be involved in fingerling production, fish feed production, fish processing and value addition and marketing as the country has a deficit in fish feed because of the various people who have ventured into fish farming.
He said there is money in fish farming.
“You may recall that on 24th November last year, I launched this project under the Presidential initiative by stocking six fish cages with 108,000 fingerlings for the two cooperatives.
“Today, I am back to witness the fish harvest in order to complete the cycle and demonstrate the success of this project. Often times, we launch projects but we do not show the progress made after commissioning. This one is different and let me congratulate all those who have made this possible,” He said.
President Lungu said Zambia can be self-sufficient in fish production and become a net exporter.
“I am happy to learn that in 2020 Zambia produced an estimated 45,670 tonnes of fish from aquaculture, representing 18 percent improvement from the 2019 aquaculture production which was estimated then at 38,800 tonnes. aquaculture production was only 10,520 tonnes in 2011.This increase between 2011 and 2020 is because my government has put in place a robust programme for aquaculture production across the country ensuring that no one is left behind,” he said.
He said government attaches great importance to the fisheries sub-sector.
The Head of State has therefore directed Minister for the Ministry of Fisheries and Livestock, Professor Nkandu Luo to urgently take to cabinet a memorandum on the establishment of the fisheries and aquaculture development fund in line with the fisheries act number 22 of 2011.
He this is to maintain the momentum for sustainable development of fisheries and aquaculture.
President Lungu further said government is poised to produce 162, 000 tonnes of fish from aquaculture by 2025 to meet the domestic requirement of ensuring that every Zambian consumes at least 12 Kilograms of fish annually which will require not less than 800 million fingerlings and 242,000 tonnes of fish feed annually.
“The export market is also yawning for the fish and feed from this country. Therefore, you are assured of the huge domestic and export market leveraging the country being land linked,” he added.
He also congratulated the cooperatives for the hard work exhibited in managing the fish which was stocked on 24th November, 2020.
The President also urged other fish farmers to emulate the good work and dedication demonstrated by Buyantashi and Kamimbi cooperatives adding that there is need for the country to kill the culture of dependency syndrome by promoting self-reliance.
(Picture by Eddie Mwanaleza/State House)