Zambia: Farmers Assured of Govt Support

The government has assured farmers of continued support and implementation of progressive policies in the agriculture sector.

Eastern Province Minister Charles Banda said it was for this reason that Government had decided to continue with the Farmer Input Support Programme (FISP).

The minister was speaking in Chipata at the weekend during the opening of the 36th Provincial Agriculture and Commercial Show under the theme 'Building on today's prosperity'.

Mr Banda said Government was enthusiastic about enhancing household and national food security and income.

The minister, who was accompanied by his permanent secretary Hlobotha Nkunika, said during the 2012/2013 farming season, Government had allocated 32, 338 tonnes of fertiliser targeting 161, 690 small-scale farmers.

Mr Banda said unlike in the 2011/2012 agriculture season, Government had in the coming farming season incorporated groundnuts, cotton and sorghum as part of the FISP.

This is aimed at diversifying the produce farmers were able to grow under the programme.

"Government will continue supporting and implementing progressive agricultural policies aimed at enhancing household and national food income.

"We will do everything possible to ensure the growth and sustainability of the agriculture sector", Mr Banda said.

He appealed to the private sector to come on board and assist in addressing challenges surrounding crop marketing.

He said despite the country experiencing bumper harvests in the past three seasons, challenges still reflected in crop marketing.

Mr Banda said farmers had suffered at the hands of unscrupulous business executives offering them low prices for their produce.

He said crop marketing problems needed collective efforts from stakeholders in order to boost the agriculture sector.

Interpreting the show's theme, Mr Banda said it had come at a time when the ruling Patriotic Front Government was rebuilding the economy in order to create more jobs and empower people.

He said the rebuilding of the country called for the full participation of every Zambian.

He appealed to farmers to utilise resources in a sustainable manner for the benefit of the current and future generations.

"To rebuild the economy implies that all of us, the farmers, the business houses and all developmental stakeholders should be focussed on making current positive progress upon which our future prosperity depends.

"It means that the present and not the future achievements must act as seed capital for the future prosperity," he said.

Speaking earlier, show society chairperson Jonathan Banda described this year's show as a success.

Mr Banda said the show saw an increase in the number of exhibitors from last year's 70 to 130 and also revenue collected from last year's K15 million to about K45 million.

He said unlike last year when only 150 people passed through the gates, this year the number doubled and attributed that to the early publicity the show was given.

He appealed to Government ministries and private companies that had not exhibited before to come on board and help build the economy.

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