PRESIDENT Edgar Lungu has been awarded with a Regional Pro-Poor Governance Award by the Regional Small Scale Farmers in Eastern, Central and Southern Africa for his passion, dedication and commitment to improve small scale farming in Zambia.
President Lungu has been recognized for his efforts to improve rural farming methods by encouraging the rural farming communities to move from hand-hoe tilling of the land basic modern farming implements that are being promoted by the African Union (AU).
Regional Small Scale Farmers in Eastern, Central and Southern Africa Faustin Vuningoma said President Lungu had in his several speeches exhibited his passion for the rural poor farming community who are often the majority and would want to alleviate their farming challenges by investing in cheap but effective modern farming implements.
He stated that small scale farmers had realised that policy makers, sponsors and other intervening stakeholders compelled them to adopt farming practices and methods that were often not beneficial without consulting them.
Mr Vuningoma said the use of seeds and other agriculture inputs as support to small scale farmers without appropriate consultation was detrimental to the small scale farmers.
He said the criminalization of the use of traditional seeds had the potential to compromise the seed system, foods and cultures and that there was a danger of Africans losing their identity and dignity as the continent could easily become a food colony
“This is retrogressive and largely responsible for poor agriculture performance in the region. It is for this reason that the organisation has called for a symposium which is going to be hosted by Zambia at which farmers will discuss their challenges and possible remedies in the presence of stakeholders and policy makers to reconsider the African Region Intellectual Property Organisation Protocol which is aimed at criminalizing the use of traditional seeds,” Mr Vuningoma said.
He told the Daily Nation in a statement that the rural farmers were happy with the economic infrastructure development under the Link Zambia project because the construction of roads in rural areas would give farmers easy access to the markets.
Mr Vuningoma said the Head of State had been using bilateral talks with his counterparts in the region to champion the needs of the small scale farmers not only in Zambia but in the region as a whole.
He stated that small scale farmers in the region were happy that the Patriotic Front Government under President Lungu was implementing its manifesto which recognized the importance of family farming, crop diversification and reduction in the use of foreign inputs such as seed.
“Small scale farmers in Eastern, Central and Southern Africa find the PF Government under President Lungu a listening one and believe that their demands will be met. The Link Zambia project currently being implemented has been appreciated by the farmers in the region because it is an opportunity to the majority poor farmers to have easy and cheap access to the market. This has the potential to reduce poverty among the rural population and as the Regional Small Scale Farmers in Eastern, Central and Southern Africa, we have decided to honour President Lungu with the Regional Pro-poor Governance award in recognition of his commitment to better the lives of rural farmers by improving their farming methods,” Mr Vuningoma said.
Mr Vuningoma said in the wake of what he termed pitiful disaster that had left the small scale farmers in Eastern, Central and Southern Africa without direction on the part of policy-makers, his organisation had decided to hold a symposium at which farmers would be able to exchange ideas through exhibitions.
The Regional Small Scale Farmers in Eastern, Central and Southern Africa is a regional network of 258 civil society organisations in 12 African countries and has the membership of about eight million.