Tuesday, 16 April 2013

State, World Bank sign $29.8m for agriculture

GOVERNMENT has signed a US$29.8 million (KR150 million) loan agreement with the World Bank for boosting the agriculture sector in the country.
Speaking at the signing ceremony in Lusaka yesterday, Minister of Finance Alexander Chikwanda said the US$29.8 million which is a long-term loan agreement to be repaid in 50 years, will improve the country’s agriculture sector.
He said the loan will also support the effective implementation of the Agricultural Productivity Programme for Southern Africa (APPSA) project.
Mr Chikwanda said Government has placed the agriculture sector on its development agenda because it has become the most promising prospects for Zambia’s sustainable development and poverty reduction.
“The agreement we have signed today [yesterday] of US$29.8 is an essential prelude to improved agriculture. The World Bank sponsored APPSA has a correct thrust.
“The country already has a measure of food security and we have some exportable surpluses. With these
funds, small scale farmers can now deliver prosperity but there is compelling need for these farmers to improve,” he said.
Mr Chikwanda said the APPSA project will be implemented by the Zambia Agricultural Research Institute of the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock.
He said the project activities will focus on research stations and farmers’ fields.
“Research will focus on food legumes such as beans, cowpeas, soya beans and groundnuts. Some research will also be conducted on maize, rice and sorghum.
“Research stations in Zambia that are expected to be involved will include Kabwe, Mount Makulu, Misamfu in Kasama, Msekera in Chipata, Mochipapa in Choma, Mongu and the Golden Valley Research Trust,” Mr Chikwanda said.
He hoped that the APPSA project will greatly contribute to the strides Government is making to develop the country’s agriculture sector.
And World Bank country director for Zambia, Malawi and Zimbabwe Kundhavi Kadiresan pledged the financial institution’s continued support to Government’s programmes aimed at enhancing food security in the country.
Ms Kadiresan said the World Bank has decided to support Zambia with US$29.8 million because agriculture is an important sector that has potential to not only reduce poverty and vulnerability for the rural population, but also to create wealth.
“Agriculture provides Zambia with the best opportunity to diversify its economy. In addition, it employs more than 70 percent of the population and contributes about 14 percent to the gross domestic product,” she said.
Ms Kadiresan called on small-scale farmers to improve their farming practices to enhance food security in the country.
Original Article Here

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