PF Playing With Agriculture Like A Cheap Toy – Muhabi


The MMD wishes to express concern at the abrupt cancellation of the commencement of maize purchases from farmers announced by Deputy Minister for
Agriculture Greyford Moonde. A few days ago, the Minister of Agriculture Wilbur Simuusa informed the nation that the purchase of maize by the Food
Reserve Agency (FRA) countrywide would commence on 1st July 2014. From the time the statement was made, Zambian farmers have been preparing for the
FRA purchase program by packing their maize harvests in grain bags. But as is characteristic of the Patriotic Front (PF) Government, they have been
treated to a rude shock by being told that the maize is not “dry enough”. Zambian farmers do not need this kind of “Donchi Kubeba” style of
governance.

We wish to echo the concerns expressed by the World Bank Country Director Dr. Kundhavi Kadiresan, made in Kitwe on 24th June 2014 when she addressed
members of the Copperbelt University (CBU) Economic Association and other Students. Her concerns were captured in the third “Zambia Economic Brief”,
with particular reference to the PF policies on Agriculture.

In Dr. Kadiresan’s own words, “… when it comes to policies, when there is no consistency, it makes it difficult for the private sector to grow and
this is because for the private sector to invest in an economy, they need to be certain there won’t be changes in policy come next year.” She said
that “unpredictable” agriculture trade policies are hurting the country in many ways. The agricultural sector is run by the private sector that
includes Commercial, Small Holder and Subsistence Farmers. More importantly, the vast rural populations in our country depend on Agriculture which
employs 85% of the total Zambian labour force, both formal and informal.
The Zambian agricultural sector under the MMD scored unprecedented successes having managed to yield 3 successive, verifiable (not “scientific”)
Bumper harvests in the nation’s staple food which translated into exports to various countries in the region. This was due to the professional and
predictable manner that the MMD managed the entire spectrum of the Agricultural sector. Maize floor prices were announced in good time, farmers knew
when their inputs would be delivered, and more importantly, they were paid in a timely fashion.

In sharp contrast, the current situation in Agriculture under the PF Government is in total shambles. The PF needs to be made aware that there is a
bigger picture as to why the MMD Government paid so much importance and attention to the Agricultural sector. The world over, strong growth in
Agriculture is cardinal to produce a thriving economy. This was partly why the Zambian economy during our tenure performed so well. The rapid growth
being witnessed in the South Asian and Indian economies today have foundations in their “Green Revolutions”. Even England’s Industrial Revolution and
eventual ascendance to a First World economy was preceded by an Agricultural Revolution.

Unfortunately, the PF Government is playing with Agriculture like a child with a cheap toy.
International economists have indicated that it is Africa, particularly Sub-Saharan, that shall provide global food security in the coming years due
to its enormous natural, physical and human resources. The continent uses less than 25% of its arable land and less than 14% of the irrigation
potential. Globally, the demand for food is rising at 3.3% per annum whilst the supply of farmable land is increasing by only 1% annually. With
agricultural land in developed countries shrinking as urbanization continues unabated, food production will become the most critical industry in the
world and Africa can deliver to the entire world, with Zambia taking center-stage due to having 40% of the total water resources in Sub-Saharan
Africa.

Farmers are a major key to the growth engine of our economy. Zambians can still remember how well the MMD managed Agriculture. They used to pay K37
for a 25kg bag of mealie-meal but are paying nearly K90 today in many parts of Zambia. The MMD Government succeeded in keeping prices affordable
without resorting to getting a One Billion Dollar “Kaloba” (loan) under the guise of a Euro Bond as the PF have done. Our good results were based on
careful planning and execution of clear, predictable and well thought-out agricultural policies.

The current situation under the PF Government is one of complete confusion and is an embarrassing shambolic mess. The recklessness with which this PF
government is borrowing is frightening. It is because they do not have a long-term view of their stay in power. They are not worried about leaving
these massive debts that shall be a huge burden on future generations, long after they have been kicked out of power.
This recklessness must be stopped immediately!

The New MMD is still carrying the vision crafted by our founders almost 25 years ago. Many who welcomed and believed in this vision have come and
gone, but the vision still lives on. It is not a “personal-to-holder” vision but is there for all Zambians to embrace. All Zambians that believe in
politics of Multi-Party Democracy and Free Market Policies feel at home with this vision.
MMD believes in Agriculture.

MMD believes in prosperity for all Zambians.

Muhabi Lungu
MMD National Secretary
The Hour for New Hope

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