Agriculture sector guarantees poverty reduction
I want to commend the newly appointed Agriculture Minister Dora Siliya who promised to uphold the promises which the ruling party, PF, made during the just-ended election campaigns of ensuring that Zambia was food secure and a major regional agriculture exporter. It is indeed a true picture of the agricultural reality and PF leaders have recognised that growth in agriculture is the most effective strategy for reducing poverty, increasing food security, creating jobs and promoting overall economic growth as the majority of Zambia’s population lives in rural areas, with at least 80% of the workforce engaged in agriculture (“Food security a must – Dora Siliya”, Daily Nation, September 28, 2016).
FISP which is short for the Farmers Input Support Programme is a Zambian government initiative established in 2003 to accelerate agricultural growth, improve food security, nutrition, and increase incomes in the country’s largely small scale farm-based economies. It does this by raising agricultural productivity and encourages public investment in agriculture.
In the last twelve years of FISP implementation, Zambia’s agricultural sector has grown. Although moderately, it is the highest average for the last five decades and is beginning to show signs of improving the lives of poor people. This growth can be attributed partly to FISP’s emphasis on increasing productivity as well as private-public investment in the agriculture sector.
Yet the positive gains made by FISP over the years have been coupled with increased uncertainty in chemical fertilizer import markets. The fertilizer crisis, which pushed international fertilizer prices to triple their 2003 levels, peaked in mid-2014. Again end-user prices of the imported topdressing commodity shot up dramatically in the latter half of that year, as the weakening of the local currency exchange rate against the major global currencies set in too. These back-to-back crises left poor farmers in Zambia at the mercy of increased fertilizer price changes and gave them less access to resources, credit, and social protection.
Nevertheless, I strongly believe that unless the high cost of basal fertilizer production is addressed at Nitrogen Chemicals of Zambia (NCZ), the importation of topdressing fertilizer is curtailed, ZDA and IDC facilitates the setting up of a stand-alone primary phosphate raw material processing plant in Petauke of Eastern Province to process phosphate ores into the various starting chemical raw materials, the raw materials include those for use together in the compound fertilizer section at the NCZ plant are aggressively pursued, the capturing of sulphur dioxide emissions and turning into sulphuric acid at the first acid plant, by Mopani Copper Mine (MCM) in Mufulira is enhanced and utilized, sulphuric acid which is a key ingredient in the production of superphosphate fertilizers can be transported to Petauke in Eastern Province by rail or road, unless, unless, unless… FISP budget constraints in connection with basal and topdressing fertilizers’ procurement by government cannot really be reduced.
I only hope that the PF leaders including the newly appointed Agriculture Minister will not close their ears to this clarion call to action.
NIPA receptionist’s bad attitude
Kindly allow me space in your widely read newspaper to express my disappointment over the kind of arrogant attitude or behaviour that one receives when you go to NIPA main campus reception area for inquires.
There is some lady who is the receptionist. This lady is the rudest person I have ever come across. The rudeness in her goes overboard in the sense that she does that to whomever regardless of whether one is a new or old student. This has resulted in most students not approaching her for any information but rather seek assistance from other sources.
This year in June, I approached her for some information because I did not know where to go. To my surprise, I was shocked by her response.
A few days later, I looked for the Human Resources Office to lodge my complaint and he assured me that they would talk to her. I can guarantee that 90% of the students have stopped approaching her due to her bad attitude.
It is vital to underscore that her position at the institution requires her to be friendly with people. The reception area of NIPA is the eye of the institution. Anyone who wants information about the institution first starts with her by virtue of being the receptionist and if one is given that kind of attitude, the client will go away thinking that all members of staff at NIPA are rude. NIPA is too big to be destroyed by one person.
I would like to appeal to NIPA management to do something about it because the reputation on the institution is being dented.