6 April 2014

Zambia: Plans to Raise Agro-Bond On Cards

THE Government is considering raising an agriculture bond to support agriculture diversification outside the national budget.

Agriculture and Livestock Permanent Secretary Julius Shawa said the ministry was working with the Ministry of Finance to raise the bond to support the sector and run agriculture as a business.

"We want to come up with bankable ideals on agriculture for the sector to operate profitably and sustain the economy of the country," Mr Shawa said.

He said among crops targeted by the Government were rice, groundnuts and soya beans. He said it was good that the trend towards oil seeds and legume were receiving a lot of attention by the farmers in the country.

In his presentation at the Agritech Expo in Chisamba at the weekend, Mr Shawa said the Ministry had developed an agriculture suitability map for the extension officers to use in implementing the diversification programme.

The Agritech Expo will be an annual event which will be availing opportunities for farmers and agro-technology dealers from within and outside the country.

He said the suitability map would help Government to identify crops to be supported in different farming areas especially for small-scale farmers in the country.

"The problem lies with the small-scale farmers, because large farmers are able to read signals, that is why we need to support extension services and consider the issue of mechanising farming among the small-scale farmers in the country," he said.

Galuania Farms Limited executive chairperson Michael Galaun said small-scale farmers in the country should be empowered with technical skills and knowledge to run farming profitably.

Mr Galaun said to support farmers fully, the Government should facilitate out-grower partnerships between marketers and small-scale farmers especially for cash crops.

"Small-scale farmers lack capital and technical know-how on growing of cash crops, so out-grower scheme is the way forward," he said.

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