Social development

At face value there is no connection between the US$1billion loan the Government has contracted and the suffering tobacco farmers who are struggling to make sense and give well deserved value to their effort.

Hundreds of farmers around the country are confronted with tons and tons of tobacco which they have produced at great cost and for which they have no market.

The independent farmer who has no link with established institutions must fight to find markets as and when the official markets starts.

Even when such markets open, the farmers will be at the tail end, only able to sell after affiliated producers have disposed of their produce. Even then the current prices are very low compared to the effort and input expended.

Outside the established market the prices offered are downright extortionist.

In all this the Government has been particularly silent, perhaps hoping that the market will suddenly spring to life and rescue the hapless farmers. This will not happen.

 The truth is that Government must meet the farmers at their immediate point of need. It is inconceivable that Government can remain insensitive and insular to the plight of Zambians who have spent their time crafting value.

The Government will be entirely to blame if the tobacco currently marooned at the Lusaka floors and other points in Zambia will go to waste.

Given that  some farmers may be avoiding to meet their debt obligation by running away from contractors who extended fertilizer support of credit and indeed given the possibility that a small section of farmers may be totally dishonest rogues the  reality remains that a huge quantity of tobacco- a product of value, is out there and in danger of going to waste.

There must be a way in which the Ministry of Agriculture, disaster management unit and its contingency unit must be able to salvage what is destined to be a huge waste of value because the existing infrastructure is clearly not suited to meet the challenge of the moment.

This is where the huge loans that Government is contracting become relevant.

The Millions of Dollars being invested in infrastructure will not be able to regenerate immediate return compared to investment that may be made in human capital, namely in the ability of the Zambian people to produce enduring value.

Instead of wasting value on ill executed infrastructure projects more resources should now be spared for market development, research and production and marketing logistics which will result from increased output from Zambian farmers.

It is a notorious fact that Zambian producers and contractors have a very steep incline to climb to reach resources required to order to produce   and perform in the remarkable manner they have been able to attain. This is compared to commercial and foreign contractors who have ready access to credit and therefore resources for processing and preservation of produce.

The Government has a duty and responsibility to ensure that the unsupported Zambian farmers have access to resources.

Our farmers must be motivated to produce more, even if this means dipping into national coffers, after all less onerous activities such as by elections gobble billions.

Categorized | Editorial

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