President Hichilema urges Zambians to seize opportunities in agriculture sector

President Hakainde Hichilema has stated that agriculture is critical in bringing growth, creating employment opportunities and contributing to prosperity of the country.
Delivering his policy speech today Friday 10th September 2021 during the ceremonial opening of the 1st session of the 13th National Assembly, President Hichilema noted that the country has in excess of 40 million hectares of arable land, abundant surface and underground water resources and favourable weather conditions.
He said there was a readily available domestic and international market for agriculture commodities adding that most Zambians derive their livelihood from agriculture.
President Hichilema however noted that the agriculture sector was characterized by low production levels, insufficient agricultural support infrastructure, inadequate delivery of extension services and poor land husbandry practices.
He noted additional inadequacy in value addition, high cost of finance and high dependency on maize and stressed that investing in the sector will therefore guarantee significant improvement in the lives of the majority of Zambians.
The President said his administration will therefore implement a comprehensive agriculture transformation program with the aim of making the sector a viable commercial undertaking pointing out that it was only through agriculture transformation that the country can end hunger and improve nutrition, while accelerating economic growth which will ultimately make the country food secure and a bread basket for the region.
He said the sector will be restructured to focus on interventions that raise production and productivity in crop, livestock and fisheries adding that a conducive and stable environment which is a critical pre-condition for agriculture transformation will be created.
The President further said to improve agriculture production and productivity, his administration will ensure access to affordable agriculture inputs such as fertilizer, chemicals and pesticides which he said will be achieved through the re-designing of the farmer input support program to transform it into a more cost effective and sustainable intervention.
‘This will promote cost efficiency and enhance private sector participation. We will partner with the private sector and establish agriculture input manufacturing industries to produce these inputs for our farmers,’ President Hichilema said.
He said the interventions will promote a strong agriculture dealers’ network across the country adding that the government will also promote crop diversification away from maize by supporting production of cereal crops, legumes, fruit trees, roots and tubers, oil crops as well as fiber crops.
Hichilema said this will be achieved through improved extension services, mechanism, irrigation, value addition and improved market access.
‘This will result in enhanced national food and nutritional security as well as increased income for our farmers,’ He said.
To promote and increase livestock production, he said government will focus on stocking and restocking, artificial insemination as well as enhanced disease surveillance and control and further improve livestock market promotion while value addition will be prioritized.
He stressed that there will also be support for construction and rehabilitation of livestock infrastructure such as laboratories, service centers and breeding centers across the country.
On aquaculture, the President said this was another area with great potential to provide opportunities for people to venture in and improve their livelihoods.
He said in this regard, the government will promote the expansion and intensification of fish farming across the country especially among women and youths adding that production of fingerlings as well as establishment of hatcheries will facilitate growth of the aquaculture industry.
President Hichilema noted that this will not only improve the livelihood of people but will also meet the growing demand for fish in the country.
He said to ensure transformed agriculture which will effectively contribute to restoration of economic growth and job creation, government will review the existing agriculture policies to enhance production and productivity, value addition, marketing as well as transport and predictability of the export regime in the sector.
He has urged Zambians to seize the opportunities that exist in the sector so that the country does not only become food sufficient but also become the bread basket of the region and beyond and stressed that the country has the capacity to achieve these goals.

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