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‘Access to market for farm produce challenge’

CHIENGE district Commissioner Joseph Chisakula says poor state of roads and lack of market access for agricultural produce has contributed to the high poverty levels in the district.
Mr Chisakula said farmers are having a challenge to transport their produce from the district to urban areas due to poor road network.
He said this when a Zambia National Farmers Union (ZNFU) team and the Finnish ambassador to Zambia Timo Olkkonen paid a courtesy call on him at his office on Monday.
He said poverty in the district is high, hence the need to implement various government programmes.
The ZNFU team and Mr Olkkonen are in the province to identify potential agricultural activities and to help find solutions to challenges affecting development of the sector.
“The district is faced with a number of challenges which include poor road network linking the district to other districts, lack of established markets for small-scale farmers, lack of established agriculture leaders and lack of labour servicing equipment for the farmers,” he said.
Mr Chisakula said there is need to attach importance to the implementation of various Government programmes if the district is to address some of the challenges it is currently facing.
Programmes implemented by Government such as the social cash transfer, food security pack and the Farmer Input Support Programme, have contributed to poverty reduction among the beneficiaries.
Mr Chisakula also cited the establishment of the Chipungu border post, agriculture offices, hospitals, and classroom blocks as a major contributor to economic development in the district.
“It is my hope that the challenges which we have talked about will be addressed after this historical tour,” he said.
And Mr Olkkonen said Finland is ready to provide support to Zambia in the agriculture sector due to its potential to reduce poverty and increase food security.
There is need for people in the district and the entire province to utilise the vast natural resources to grow various crops. This will help reduce poverty and increase income generation.
“The Finnish government remains committed to supporting the agriculture sector in Zambia. The sector has the potential to reduce poverty levels and contribute to the development of the country’s economy, but there is need to diversify to growing other crops to increase income generation,” he said.