The removal of Bob Sichinga as Minister of Agriculture is a blessing and President Michael Sata should be commended for saving the sector from total collapse, says Youth Development Organisation executive director Partner Siabutuba.
Siabutuba said that under Sichinga, the agriculture sector had completely collapsed and gave no hope to the people of Zambia especially small scale farmers who were the major participant for national food security.
He said that it was the first time in the history of the Farmer Input Support Programme that government failed to distribute inputs to small scale farmers throughout the country on time.
“We are happy with his (Sichinga) removal; he was a danger to the sector because he operated as if he did not understand farming. For this we congratulate President Sata for making a noble decision to have him out of the Ministry if anything he was supposed to be dropped,” said Siabutuba.
The former Civil Society for Poverty Reduction (CSPR) board chairman said, “Hon Sichinga was making us to start wondering the kind of agricultural governance he had embarked on where inputs are distributed in February and March. If we have to look at performance the Agriculture sector is the worst in a long time now,” said Siabutuba.
Siabutuba said that the PF government had failed the sector because of lack of seriousness and direction in the management of the agriculture sector.
He explained that it was worrying to see government differing on major policies that directly affect people.
“Look how can the sector improve when you fail to make the inputs available on time? How will you inspire farmers when you cannot buy the produce? How do you ensure that there is food security in the country when you allow the produce to rot? All these things have made the PF government and Sichinga in particular to fail the sector,” said Siabutuba.
Siabutuba observed that small scale farmers who were the major beneficiary of the Ministry of Agriculture were frustrated; hopping that under the new minister Wilbur Simusa, there would be consultation with stakeholders in order to promote and improve the sector.
During reshuffles, President Sata moved Sichinga from the Ministry of Agriculture to the Ministry of Commerce.