ZAMBIA is in a good position to take full advantage of its agricultural potential to fully develop the industry, says Musika director Rob Munro.
Mr Munro said while the short term picture was quite tough for Zambian agriculture, there was certainly good news at the ‘‘big picture’’ level.
Musika is a non-profit Zambian company that works to stimulate private sector investment in the smallholder market.
Mr Munro said Zambia still had plenty of land and water, a stable political environment and a highly resilient, resourceful and diverse farming community.
“In an age where food is in ever increasing demand locally, regionally and globally, Zambia is in a good position to take full advantage of its agricultural assets in the future,” he said.
Mr Munro said Zambia was struggling with a number of difficult macroeconomic challenges at the moment such as a power shortage and a drought, all of which affected the farming economy more than the rest of the business sector.
He said however the future of Zambian farmers, both small and large scale, as suppliers of food to the region and as drivers of Zambian economic growth was positive.
“The most obvious and immediate challenge is the drought that is affecting many parts of the country which will undoubtedly affect yields and agricultural income, which in turn limits the ability of farmers and agribusiness to invest in the growth of the sector,” he said.
He said over the last year, some areas had seen a substantial increase in the number of agribusinesses offering inputs, technology, information and market access to the farmers to enhance agriculture activities.
Mr Munro said in an era in which there were climatic challenges, the growth of the agricultural industry in the high rainfall northern part of the country could as well only be a good thing for the country.
“With regards to the current drought conditions, there has been strong collaboration between public and private sectors on making farmers, particularly smallholder farmers, aware of the impending drought and advising on risk mitigation practices such as planting short season or drought tolerant crop varieties,” he said.
He cited the Ministry of Agriculture facilitating the integration of commercially available weather insurance into its innovative ‘e-voucher’ scheme for the delivery of its Farm Input Support Programme through private sector input supply channels.
He said Musika’s support to the ‘e-voucher’ programme had not only extended subsidized access by smallholder farmers to a wide range of agricultural inputs, but had also accelerated the growth of the agricultural inputs market significantly in the districts in which it was piloted. Musika is a key partner in the upcoming Agritech Expo which is expected to host some 15,000 farming professionals, emerging, small holder and commercial farmers.