MAIZE exports have contributed significantly to the foreign exchange earnings of Zambia and this should trigger more maize production by farmers, says Agriculture minister Given Lubinda.
Mr Lubinda said Zambia was now poised to be the regional bread basket for not only maize but also for wheat, soya beans and other crops and livestock.
He was speaking at the Indaba Agriculture Policy Institute (IAPRI) open day and launch of the Agriculture in Zambia, Past Present and Future book and the Atlas of the Smallholder Farming Sector in Zambia.
Mr Lubinda said the devotion and commitment to providing evidence and scientific analysis to farmers had helped shape some of the key decisions in the sector.
He said one such example was the debate of keeping the borders open for the export of maize in Zambia.
“The effect of this is that we have seen maize exports contributing significantly to the foreign exchange earnings of the country.
“This will help trigger more maize production by farmers. Zambia is now poised to be the regional bread basket for not only maize but also for wheat, soya beans and other crops and livestock,” he said.
Mr Lubinda said the open day allowed Government collect other research outputs that could assist in policy decision making and implementation process.
He also announced that a day had been set aside for farmers to commemorate their work starting from 2016.
“We have teachers day, youth day and other days that are celebrated but farmers do not have their day so starting from next year, they will also be celebrating their day,” he said.
Meanwhile, IAPRI executive director Chance Kabaghe said the institution was interested in seeing agriculture becoming major forex earner.
Mr Kabaghe said IAPRI was closely working with different agriculture stakeholders to ensure the success of the sector.
At the same function, Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) awarded 3 Zambians for actively working hand in hand with the organisation.
FAO country representative George Okech said the organisation wanted to celebrate its 70th anniversary of operations by awarding people who helped disseminate information about the organisation.
Mr Okech explained that 50 people had been awarded across Africa while 3 of them were Zambians among them a Journalist from Zambia Daily Mail Esther Mseteka.