By Nation Reporter
VALUE addition to agriculture produce with proper policy formulation has the potential to make the sector the backbone of the economy as Governmnet plans to diversify from mining, the Zambia Direct Democracy Movement (ZDDM) has observed.
ZDDM vice-president Charles Kafumbo told the Daily Nation yesterday that while it has become clear that diversification was the only way through which to resuscitate the economy which was under much stress due to overdependence on copper, the agriculture sector was one such viable option which could transform the economy if well managed.
Mr. Kafumbo said there was need to maximise the output of the sector through value addition to crops produced by the farmers so that the country does not continue to export raw materials.
He said the agriculture sector had immense potential to be the pillar of the economy if well-managed because Zambia had good soils conducive for farming and rearing of livestock.
“The agriculture sector in Zambia has the potential to become the mainstay of our economy if we plan well. We need to come up with policies and programmes that are aimed at improving the sector while on the other hand we need to consider adding value to the crops we produce because the continued export of our produce in raw form means that we are exporting jobs which we should in the actual sense keep for Zambians,” Mr. Kafumbo said.
He said there was need for mindset change among Zambian farmers especially in crop production in the wake of insufficient rains. Their dependence on maize had become a huge drawback because the crop was not drought resistant.
Mr Kafumbo said as the country prepared to diversify the economy, there was also need to embrace traditional and drought resistant crops such as millet, sorghum, cassava and beans which had the same economic value as maize.
“There is need for mindset change among our farmers. Maize has continued to disappoint us in the recent past due to the ever changing rainfall patterns. Yet, our farmers still want to produce the same crop every year. There is need for sensitisation so that our farmers grow crops that are drought resistant and still have the same value like that of maize,” he said.