NEVER again will there be any delays in the distribution of farm inputs and the payment of farmers in a crop marketing season without a good reason, President Edgar Lungu has declared.
And President Lungu has appealed to businessmen in the agriculture sector who would be buying various agriculture commodities to avoid exploiting farmers by offering them unattractive prices during the crop marketing season because that would easily discourage them from working hard.
He said Zambia was capable of increasing production in the agriculture sector by producing various crops as well as livestock and fisheries and it was therefore important for farmers in the country to take agriculture to higher heights.
Speaking at the Agritech Zambia Expo 2016 organised by the Zambia National Farmers Union (ZNFU) in Chisamba yesterday, President Lungu said Government was aware that the country’s neigbouring were facing serious foot shortages but it was his desire to see Zambia was food secure to feed all citizens.
President Lungu stated that it was not possible for Zambia to be food-insecure and at the same time have the capacity to be the major source of food exports in the region including through undesirable acts such as smuggling.
“When I was running for President in 2014/15, the opposition blew out of proportion delayed payments to our farmers and some isolated delays in farmer input distribution to our people. When I won the presidency, one of the very first acts I undertook was to ensure that never again will delays in input distribution and crop marketing occur without good reason. Those who criticize us will not admit that the good harvest last year and the one to come in a matter of weeks is as a result of our prudent policy decisions,” President Lungu said.
President Lungu said Government was going to ensure that the agriculture sector was given maximum support through the provision of an appropriate policy environment, budgetary allocations and the continued implementation of various programmes in the sector.
The Head of State said some of the programmes Government was implementing included the promotion of an efficient farmer input programme, establishing irrigation facilities especially for smallholder farmers to reduce dependency on rain-fed agriculture.
The President said Government was also promoting farm mechanization especially among smallholder farmers as well as fisheries and livestock development.
President Lungu said he was determined to make Zambia the food basket of the region and that the country was poised to achieve the feat given the abundant resource base in terms of land, water, labour and favourable weather conditions.
The President stated that events such as Agritech Expo Zambia often provided a good platform upon which farmers could share progressive ideas to develop agriculture into a mainstay of the economy.