GOVERNMENT has commended farmers in Eastern Province for increasing production of poultry products by 50 per cent last year.
Eastern Province Permanent Secretary Bert Mushala said there was an urgent need to look for alternative markets elsewhere other than just the local ones which may not have the capacity to absorb increased supply of poultry and poultry products.
Mr Mushala was speaking during the official opening of the Poultry Association of Zambia (PAZ) annual general meeting (AGM) held at Wildlife Club Hall in Chipata.
The permanent secretary said it was also vital to consider establishment of the proposed Chipata Poultry processing plant which, once put in place, would create a ready market for poultry products and would consequently help create employment opportunities for the people, especially the youth.
He said he was happy to note that the poultry association worked hand-in-hand with the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock in fighting smuggling of poultry products into the country in the Eastern Province, which resulted in the confiscation of some poultry and poultry products.
He commended the partnership with the Government in its effort to stamp out smuggling of goods into the country that were depriving the Government of the much-needed tax revenue.
He assured the farmers that Government had taken keen interest in putting agriculture at the centre of the country's development agenda.
"Government is alive to the fact that the agricultural sector if properly managed, would go a long way in reducing unemployment and poverty levels in the country. Government is, therefore, committed to the transformation of the sector by ensuring that all necessary measures are put in place to ensure improved agricultural productivity, "Mr Mushala said.
He said Government had put in measures such as restricting importation of poultry and poultry products into the country so as to enable the local industry to develop.
Speaking at the same function, outgoing Eastern Province Permanent Secretary Emmanuel Mwamba said the poultry industry was facing a critical problem due to smuggling of poultry products.
Mr Mwamba, who had been transferred to Western Province in the same capacity, said he was happy with the increased number of farmers in the poultry industry.
And PAZ executive manager Mathews Ngosa expressed happiness with the Government policies in the poultry industry.