THE Jesuit Centre for Theological Reflection (JCTR) has noted that a well-managed agriculture sector is cardinal for food security in the country.
JCTR media and information officer Tendai Posiana said productive agricultural sector was critical to reducing the high cost of living and poverty.
Ms Posiana said there was need to ease access to land, credit, affordable inputs and extension services as production factors for majority citizens.
“In the month of July, the Ministry of Agriculture discovered and removed about 700 ineligible people from the Farmer Input Support Programme (FISP) beneficiary list and that was a step in the right direction to improve deserving farmers under this poverty reduction programme,” Ms Posiana said.
She said JCTR was therefore calling upon Government to consider the agriculture sector priority and encourage investment in the sector because it was a solution to the country’s food security challenges.
She observed that seasonal production trends of food staff such as dry fish, and maize grain often affected the availability and prices of the commodities in times when they were not in excess.
“There is need to invest more in research to identify cheaper and affordable ways of producing these crops and also widen and increase production of basic foods such as vegetables in all parts of the country as a measure to reduce transportation costs that come with transporting basic foods,” Ms Posiana said.
She said rural households depended on agriculture to access essentials such as food for their living while the urban poor depend highly on the seasonal agricultural products for their daily subsistence.
And according to the JCTR Lusaka urban Basic Needs Basket (BNB) for an average family of five for the month of July 2016, the JCTR observes that minimal increases in the prices for basic food items including mealie meal, beans, Kapenta, dry fish, beef, vegetables and onions have kept the cost of living in Lusaka high.
The Lusaka BNB has slightly increased from K4, 810.52 in June to K4, 820.70 in July.
The Basic Needs Basket measures the cost of essential food and the cost of essential non-food items by an average Zambian family for a decent standard of living in a month.
And other towns witnessing increase and maintaining high cost of living in July include Ndola K4, 460.70, Solwezi K 4, 04752 and Mongu K 2,991.79 with similar food products causing the increase in costs.