President warns of tough times

Government will in the next five years undertake austerity measures to stabilize the macro-economic situation and build greater investor confidence, President Edgar Lungu has said.And President Lungu has undertaken that the agriculture sector, fisheries and livestock would be the main focus around which other sectors would be anchored in an integrated manner under the Seventh National Development Plan.He said agriculture would therefore be the major priority of the Patriotic Front (PF) government’s economic diversification agenda.

The Head of State said this yesterday when he officially opened the first session of the 12th National Assembly under the theme: “Building an integrated multi-sectoral approach to development that enhances inclusiveness in development without leaving anyone behind.”“My Government will continue to undertake austerity measures to stabilize the macro-economic situation and build greater investor confidence. Further, we will ensure that our macro-economic policies are consistent and predictable, to enable the public and private sector plan effectively in the medium and long-term,” President Lungu said.

He said in the next five years his Government’s broad macro-economic objectives would include archiving double digit Gross Domestic Product growth and attaining single digit inflation rate and increasing and broadening domestic revenue collection.President Lungu said Government would continue to ensure that the public debt remained sustainable in order to increase the fiscal space and create room for development financing.And addressing the agriculture and industrialization sector, President Lungu said agriculture was the key lever for improving rural livelihoods.

He said his Government would focus on boosting agriculture production, enhancing productivity and increasing earnings for the farmers. ‘‘We have to make agriculture a real business venture even for small-scale and peasant farmers,” he said.The Head of State his Government would look closely at the agriculture supply chain in order to make as much capital out of all the produce harvested by hardworking people in diverse parts of the country.He said the Government would ensure that every crop took a tremendous amount of investment from planting to harvesting.“The challenge is how to create opportunities for the hardworking farmers, so that they can increase their income and truly prosper. How can we position the farmers to engage in the market place and thereby the economy? How can we strengthen the producer-consumer links in agriculture? How can we help our farmers and the agriculture sector in general to attain value addition on the way to market?” President Lungu said.He said the solution was to make farmers aggregate and produce reliable volumes.“This means that they are more likely to sell, and they were less likely to lose supply contracts because they fail to hit quantity and quality targets. Helping farmers to aggregate and store and linking them to markets can lead to more opportunities for farmers to produce more and earn more,” he said. The Head of State said his Government must seriously look at building for small and medium scale farmer, a well structured path from the field to market, retailer and consumer.He said the sector would need to become sustainable through access to clean energy, affordable financing and links to the market.

President Lungu said as a demonstration of the PF’s resolve to diversify the agriculture sector, his Government’s primary responsibility was to enhance the sector’s capacity to achieve mass production and feed into the agro-manufacturing sub-sectors.He said in order to archive such, his Government would steadfastly attract investment in farm mechanism and introduce science and technology to stimulate production.President Lungu said the majority of Zambian farmers, particularly small-scale farmers, had low levels of mechanization and usually depended on hand tools and rudimentary implements for cultivation.He said this posed a major hindrance to the expansion of land under cultivation and productivity.

President Lungu said the use of the hand-held hoe for cultivation was now being discouraged in Africa because among other disadvantages, it poses serious health risks to users.“The AU agenda on women participation on agriculture at the AU summit in 2015 unveiled a major programme to banish the hoe to the museum,” he said.

One thought on “President warns of tough times

  1. Good approach but the question remains , HOW?? What would be the strategy? what would be a SUSTAINABLE implementation plan?? can we learn from the MUSIKA business model and enhance its activities? Mr President we need strong policies to propel this speech into action. Chiefs should stop from giving large tracks of land to commercial farmers. we need to adopt the India policy where commercial entities are given what i can call a nucleus farm to act as a safety NET only and a portion for setting up a factory about 20% of the production and 80% should come from the SMALL HOLDER FARMERS. the FIRMS MUST NOT just buy or sell however must have strong extension service of their own to teach farmers on on quality and quantity and become a conduit to value chain financing and then offer a SECURED MARKET in the form of provision of supply contracts with base prices embedded but buy at the market price. ZAMBEEF model does not add value to the farmers but to the firm and its shareholders and Govt through taxes. I was amazed the minister was praising this model. Yes on the dairy they offer assured market to some few farmers but where we have an impact is on the crop side which they do not include small farmers but they do it for themselves. The best models which has potential to benefit large numbers of farmers is the AMATHEON MODEL in Mumbwa and the NWK model in Mpongwe… their is an intensive training on production and quality and post harvest technology promotion here that ZAMBEFF…. WE NEED THIS POLICY THAT WILL COMPEL LARGE COMMERCIAL INVESTMENT TO INCLUDE 80% of the small holder farmers to be trained and produce for the primary firms. On the input market the e voucher is key..this has brought in competition from the private sector who are now reaching to the last mile than before. also the farmers are at liberty to get inputs of their choice compared to the orthodox FISP model which should be discouraged at all cost as it is not sustainable and is costing GOVT billions of dollars to distribute etc. also this old model is advantaging few unscrupulous fertilizer suppliers on the market. On FRA i suggest govt should be be tendering this process to the private sector to buy on behalf govt on a put option…..and once the volumes are bought according to the reserve ratio, Govt should be able to open it up for export. This will reduce pressure on Govt COSTS BEING INCURRED TO BUY, STORE,FUMIGATE, MANAGE ETC plus the pilferage and loses that comes with this current model. under the put option… these costs will be borne by the operators and the resources from Govt being spent now could be used to other important National Matters. WE NEED TO COMMERCIALIZE THE MAIZE FARMING if we are to produce more than 10 million tons and also bring on board commercial farmers in the stream. this is more sustainable and will act as a safe net in case of a drought. Commercial farmers can irrigate but small holder farmers ?????? entrusting maize to the rural poor farmers very risky for the NATION. We can learn from the current season, the private sector is buy crop at $220 per ton while Govt is paying $170 simply because the demand is very high… what if we commercialized it? we will feed the WORLD and not the region….. crops such as pigeon peas largely grown in Malawi DO NOT REQUIRE much of fert and yet they are very profitable and can be integrated as nutritional crop to supplement the efforts of WFP mission etc apart from just exporting it to India . Equally cow peas and groundnuts are extremely low in the inputs ( less than 100kg per ha fert) and yet they can transform exponentially the living standards of our farmers who are vulnerable for deficiencies in income poverty. apart from the so called food security they still need to take their kids to school etc. We need to robustly increase on seed production for the legumes such as these mentioned in this article which i want daily nation to publish by offering guaranteed market to the seed growers at least for the next 3 years and then we can let it go since these are open pollinate varieties and framers can reuse for the next 3 years after this ……we will greatly diversify our production. The market is big at present for all these crops but we have zero low cost seeds to diversify.. we will keep singing in parliament about diversity if this bottleneck is not addressed by Govt. private sector will not product these seed unless their is assured market. it is easier for the Maize BUT not the legumes…………..On Mechanization we need to commercialize the operations of FRA sheds which can act as mechanization hubs through the PPP arrangement..where farmers can either access a service or buy equipment when they have grown their capital base or can buy through the leasing program tied to an off-take market which can be brokered at each hub rather that the unscrupulous traders who are duping the farmers with sandles, salaula trade offs .. again we need strong policies and enforcement to cut these selfish trading deals which can only happen at the hub. if any one whats to buy commodity they can only access at the hub where farmers would be aggregating and traders will be bidding in some cases. this will stop foreigners and others from stealing from our desperate farmers. no aggregation will happen on the road sides , trees etc but organized certified warehouses with credible measuring instruments and price discoveries,

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