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LUSAKA Zambia.

Donors confidence in economy commendable

THE signing of two agreements by GIZ and the European Union (EU) worth K320 million to develop the irrigation system and improve financial management in Zambia comes at an opportune time when Government is promoting diversification of the economy from mining to agriculture and ensuring prudent financial management.
First of all, the gesture demonstrates the confidence cooperating partners have in the efforts being undertaken by the Zambian government to grow the agriculture sector and abate the misuse of funds meant for development in various sectors of the economy.
President Edgar Lungu has placed a high premium on agriculture as evidenced by his recent call on farmers to embrace and adopt good agricultural practices to increase production in the wake of changes in the climatic conditions.
He acknowledges that the performance of the agriculture sector in Zambia is dependent on a number of factors, which is why there is need to develop irrigation systems in areas affected by harsh climatic conditions.
There is no doubt that achieving agricultural growth potential in Zambia through irrigation system, especially in view of climate change, requires a significant amount of funding from cooperating partners.
Therefore, the funding by GIZ and EU to establish an irrigation system in lower Kafue River will help smallholder farmers to unlock their potential and increase their yields.
It is an open secret that smallholder farmers are the biggest contributors to the country’s food security and therefore deserve support to increase their production.
Rain-fed agriculture is proving difficult among many farmers in view of unfavourable climatic conditions, and any support to develop irrigation system is welcome.
We urge smallholder farmers in the lower Kafue River to get actively involved in the implementation of the programme to get maximum benefit from it.
Such programmes can only produce desired results if the beneficiaries show interest by embracing new agricultural practices.
The irrigation system will help smallholder farmers produce all year round rather than relying on unpredictable rain-fed agriculture.
Like the EU Ambassador to Zambia and Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa Alessadro Mariani said the project will unlock farmers’ full potential by increasing their productivity and ensure expansion of sustainable agriculture and water management.
That the EU and the German government will support the Zambian government in making the best use of its resources for the benefit of all citizens is commendable.
We also welcome the funding towards good financial management in Zambia because it comes at a time when President Lungu has taken stringent measures to fight corruption and ensure prudent use of public finances.
Audit queries in the Auditor General’s report every year attest to the need for prudent use of public finances, without which projects to alleviate poverty among people cannot be achieved.
Good financial governance is vital to the development of the country, and we cannot agree more with German Ambassador to Zambia Achim Burkart that zero tolerance to corruption is needed in all development programmes.
Zambian people can only get maximum benefits from Government and donor-funded projects if there is good financial management.
It is gratifying to also hear that the Zambian government has stressed its commitment to address corruption in all its forms and to implement finance management reforms.
The agreement reached between Germany and Zambia to focus all programmes on strengthening accountability and transparency for better service delivery to citizens deserve commendation.
However, we agree with Mr Mariani’s statement that the two agreements will only be successfully implemented if stakeholders in the public and private sectors get actively involved.