October 23, 2004

National agriculture policy approved

Government has approved the national agriculture policy that is aimed at providing an enabling environment for the growth of the agricultural sector, President Mwanawasa has announced. Mwanawasa told the 99th Zambia National Farmers Union (ZNFU) annual congress that the four decades of Independence marked positive signs of growth in agriculture, hence the need to provide an enabling environment. The new policy addresses lop-sided crop marketing arrangements, subsidies to farmers, out-grower schemes, irrigation farming and many other issues, which were of concern to the farming community.
The President said the stage the country had reached provided a lot of scope for expansion and diversification of the economy hence the need to maintain the momentum in agricultural growth. He pledged his administration's commitment to addressing issues that inhibited the growth of the agricultural sector including that of Value-Added-Tax (VAT).
Mwanawasa also informed the meeting that it had been difficult for the task force on irrigation to mobilise the required US$13.7 million by March this year due to the country's fiscal commitment to reach the Highly Indebted Poor Countries Initiative (HIPC) completion point. "I call upon our cooperating partners to come to our assistance in mobilising resources to exploit the potential that we possess in irrigated agriculture," he said. He further encouraged small-scale farmers to take advantage of the Zambia warehouse receipt programme that was designed to address issues of seasonal price variations and post harvest financing for grains. He commended the American government for its decision to bring the Development Credit Authority facility through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
In the meantime, foreign Affairs Minister Marco Hausiku has announced that Namibia and Zambia have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) that would result in a giant agricultural project in the areas bordering the two SADC countries. He singled out the Zambezi Bridge linking the two countries as one area that underscores this special relationship. The cooperation between the two countries on a bilateral and regional context, in the field of agriculture and water resource management, would help them harness the shared water resources for food production and energy generation, the minister said. (The Times of Zambia, Ndola)

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