October 8, 2010

Government secures more money for Food Reserve Agency

President Rupiah Banda has announced that the Government has secured a further K632 billion besides the K700 billion loan that was secured from a consortium of commercial banks for maize purchases. He also said the Food Reserve Agency (FRA) needed K1.5 trillion to buy all the maize from farmers in the country. The president also appealed to other players, particularly the private sector, to complement Government's efforts in the crop marketing exercise. He urged the banking sector to avail the much-needed finances to the private sector for the purchase of agricultural produce at reasonable terms.

The president said despite the bumper harvest that the country had recorded, low levels of food productivity and lack of competitiveness still remained a challenge for most farmers, especially the small-scale farmers. "For agriculture to become profitable there is need for our farmers to increase productivity. "Once we achieve high levels of productivity we will be able to become competitive in the market both at national and regional level," he said.

Mr Banda said there was need to address the issue of reducing the maize production costs so that the crop could be competitive at the regional market. The Government would work on strategies to raise agricultural productivity especially among small-scale farmers. The strategies would include strengthening agriculture extension, promoting conservation agriculture, and encouraging irrigation. "In terms of agriculture inputs, my Government will continue to assist our small-scale farmers with seed and fertiliser through the Farmer Input Support Programme (FISP). The president however said it was important for the farmers to recognise that the FISP could not continue to support the same farmers every year. (The Times of Zambia)

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