THE effects of climate change have in the recent past negatively impacted on the agriculture sector and Zambia must adopt measures such as the construction of dams and the promotion of irrigation to mitigate unfavourable weather conditions, President Edgar Lungu has said.
President Lungu has since directed the Ministries of Agriculture and Livestock and Fisheries to devise short-term strategies aimed at increasing food production to feed not only Zambians but neighbouring countries as well.
Speaking at the launch and laying of the foundation stone to mark the construction of Mwomboshi dam in Chisamba yesterday, President Lungu said the construction of the dam was a practical expression of Government’s resolve to make agriculture the fulcrum of economic development.
President Lungu said the construction of dams and irrigation farming were an act of diversifying the agriculture sector from rain-fed farming methods, stating that he was determined to lead the country towards a truly diversified economy within the agriculture and across sectors.
The Head of State said Mwomboshi dam was going to be the largest in the country’s history with a capacity of 65 million cubic metres of water, running across1,700 metres long and standing 23 metres high.
The Mwomboshi Dam will be constructed by Anhui Foreign Economic Construction Company Limited of China at a total cost of US$28 million within the period of 30 months.
“My Government is committed to developing irrigation infrastructure across the country to address the issue of low production and productivity. The construction of dams will assist small scale farmers adopt modern and effective innovations in agriculture and also as an adaptation measure to climate change effects that we are facing today. Let me take this opportunity to direct the Ministers of Agriculture and Livestock and Fisheries to devise short term strategies aimed at increasing food production to ffed not only our citizens but our neighbours as well,” President Lungu said.
President Lungu stated that sustained investment in commercial agriculture for small scale farmers was one of the surest ways of eradicating poverty and that Government was committed to the development of irrigated agriculture to help eradicate poverty.
“The Patriotic Front (PF) administration, as a listening Government, will put in place a comprehensive support irrigation scheme for the farmers in Mwomboshi which will include the construction of all-weather roads to facilitate access to markets, provide electricity to the scheme and surrounding villages and constructing a primary and secondary school,” President Lungu said.