Monday, 10 September 2012

State to build agricultural sector

GOVERNMENT geared to build a robust and broad-based agricultural sector that will stimulate growth from production through processing to marketing.
Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Livestock Luxon Kazabu says agribusiness has the potential to spur rapid economic growth and contribute to wealth creation in Zambia.
Speaking at the just-ended Agribusiness Congress in Lusaka Mr Kazabu said under the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme agenda, Zambia is in the process of developing investment plans intended to provide an appropriate strategic framework for the period 2013 to 2017.
He said once these plans are developed, they will provide a strategic direction towards addressing key issues in agriculture and bridge gaps that have been identified.
“In terms of creation of employment in agricultural sector, there is need to undertake a detailed situation analysis of the entire value chain from production through to the marketing stage,” he said.
Mr Kazabu said the agricultural sector in Zambia has potential for producing, processing and marketing a wide range of crops, livestock, fisheries and forestry products.
He said Zambia is well positioned to benefit from the development and expansion of its existing commercial farming land and the new farm blocks that are currently developing.
Under the farm block programme, Government is encouraging investors to work with smallholder farmers on the basis of outgrower model.
Mr Kazabu said Government has envisaged achieving this through the small holder agricultural commercialisation strategy aimed at identifying opportunities and challenges faced by small holder farmers to enhance quality agricultural production, productivity and value addition.
Commenting on livestock development, he said Government is determined to develop the sub-sector by increasing livestock population through re-stocking programmes and establishment of breeding centres in some parts of the country.
He said Government is also putting in place measures aimed at improving the quality of livestock and its products by establishing disease-free zones and undertake diseases control measures like regular dipping and vaccinations.
In fisheries, Government is focusing to promote aquaculture, encourage restocking of fish in water bodies and promote new and improved fishing methods to avoid the depletion of fish stocks.
Mr Kazabu said outgrower programmes among small farmers is being encouraged where packages of extension messages from production through processing to marketing products for value addition are incorporated.
“All these measures are aimed at enhancing competiveness of our agricultural products in the domestic, regional and world markets,” he said.
Opening the congress, Vice president Guy Scott said Government places agriculture as a key sector due to its nature of being food security and income generator.
Dr Scott said Government is ready to discuss with farmers issues affecting the development of the agricultural sector.
He said agriculture among four key prioritised sector by Government that will boost Zambia’s development agenda.
“Interest rates at 20 percent is still high and we are still fighting with banks to see to it that its reduced further…we are also conducting land audits across the country, we have slight mess in this area because one land can be given to five people,” he said.
Dr Scott said Government is interested in seeing long term investors venturing into the agricultural sector and not short term investors. 

Original Article Here

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