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PEOPLE in rural areas depend on agriculture for their survival. PICTURE: ZANIS

Dakar agriculture summit beneficial to Zambia

LIKE many other countries, Zambia’s food security is under threat due to devastating effects of climate change which include inconsistent rainfall patterns. Since Zambia’s agriculture is fundamentally dependent on rainfall, the country is likely to face acute food shortages in future if the current weather variations are anything to go by. Agriculture and agro-processing is important in Zambia’s economy as it represents more than 40 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) and contributes about 12 percent of export earnings. The country’s agriculture sector accounts for some 67 percent of the labour force and supplies raw materials to agricultural industries domestically and internationally. Smallholder agriculture dominates the rural economy, and it provides livelihoods for the overwhelming majority of households. However, Zambia’s agriculture sector is endangered by continued impacts of climate change which call for innovative farming approaches to ensure sustained national food security. This is where investments in climate-smart agricultural practices come in because these practices increase positive effects, reduce Zambia’s trade deficit in certain commodities, and contribute to climate change mitigation. Global climate change projections up to 2050 show that yields of key crops could decrease by 25 percent, depending on agro-ecological zones.
Government is alive to this fact and has relentlessly been pursuing avenues to attract investments in climate-smart agriculture to enhance national food security. That is why President Hakainde Hichilema left for Senegal yesterday to participate in the Dakar 2 Summit on Agriculture. In fact, Mr Hichilema is part of a select committee of African heads of state tasked with the responsibility of seeing to it that Africa mobilises cheaper capital funds for agricultural inputs and value chain investment.
During the summit, the President will participate in high-level round-table discussions on agriculture, food security and integration, as well as preside over the presentation of Zambia’s Compact on Agriculture. Compact on Agriculture outlines Zambia’s potential and strategies for developing the sector in a bid to attract investments from private sector stakeholders and multilateral organisations. Mr Hichilema’s attendance of the summit is important because it is in line with Government’s ongoing efforts to create opportunities for joint ventures and partnerships in the agriculture sector. This is because Government has continued to seek investments towards climate-smart agriculture to bolster food security, ensure resilience of livelihoods, and respond to effects of climate change. Climate-smart agriculture is envisaged to strengthen climate resilience across the four dimensions of food security: availability, access, stability, and utilisation. This kind of agriculture has enormous reimbursements as it sustainably increases productivity, enhances resilience, and reduces greenhouse gas emissions.
In an era of climate change, no country should be left out of innovative ways of sustainably enhancing food security for its people for them to remain active contributors to national development. Zambia’s food security is of paramount significance because its population requires humanitarian action to reduce food gaps, protect and restore livelihoods, and prevent acute malnutrition, especially among children. Food security provides jobs, enhances culture, enables communities, and supports sound public health.Where there is food security, everyone has enough to eat and families can build their communities without worrying about securing their lives. We, therefore, find President Hichilema’s attendance of the Dakar 2 Summit on Agriculture to be of tremendous importance because responsible parents care about the dietary needs of their children. Being head of State, Mr Hichilema has the responsibility of ensuring that Zambia is food-secure especially in times like this when countries the world over are grappling with the impacts of climate change.