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Diversification policy hailed

PRESIDENT Lungu (left) and Richard Bennett, Sunbird Bioenergy Africa chief executive officer planting cassava stems in Kawambwa yesterday. PICTURE: EDDIE MWANALEZA/ STATE HOUSE.

CENTRE for Trade Policy Development (CTPD) says there is need to show commitment towards implementing policy measures announced by President Lungu on diversification within the agricultural production chain if the sector is to become the anchor of the country’s economy.
Recently, during his address to parliament, President Lungu outlined various policy measures including Government’s intention to make the agriculture, fisheries and livestock sectors the main focus around which other sectors will be developed in an integrated manner under the Seventh National Development Plan.
In an interview on Tuesday, CTPD acting executive director Isaac Mwaipopo said the President’s call for diversification within the agricultural production chain from the traditional maize to high value crops like groundnuts, soya beans and sunflower is timely.
“But, these measures should also reflect in the soon to be presented 2017 budget,” Mr Mwaipopo said.
CTPD also wants to see Government addressing major challenges faced in the agriculture sector to promote and scale up private sector investments into the industry.
“There is need to further strengthen the current extension service system to effectively support Government’s efforts towards promoting crop diversification and value addition for local agriculture products,” he said.
Mr Mwaipopo said transparency and broad-based participation in policy making and implementation are key pre-requisites to improving the prevailing social and economic conditions.
“Government’s intentions to make agriculture the priority sector will help the nation to begin the much-needed shift of focus from the dependence and dominance of one commodity [copper] at the neglect of other viable sectors such as the agriculture.
“The agriculture sector has the potential to not only create job opportunities, but also reduce extreme rural poverty, which is four times [57.7 percent] higher in rural areas compared to urban areas where it stands at 13 percent,” he said.

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