Govt, stakeholders talk financial woes

MINISTRY of Agriculture officials are in talks with various agricultural stakeholders to come up with initiatives that will address financial challenges among the farming communities in the country.
The officials from the ministry will also engage their counterparts at the Ministry of Finance and financial institutions to strategise on how farmers could be helped to easily access finance as it is among the challenges affecting production.
Minister of Agriculture Dora Siliya said during the question-and-answer session at the Agricultural Stakeholder Consultative Meeting last week that Government is aware of the many factors affecting agricultural growth, and that it is imperative to address them if the sector is to thrive.
“There is need for us to generate ideas that will shape the policy that will drive the agriculture sector forward over the next five years. One of the areas that require serious attention is the finance of the sector. There is need for suggestions from all agricultural stakeholders, banks and other ministries on innovative financing ideas that can enable our farmers have better access to finance,” she said.
Ms Siliya said there is need for more banks to come on board, as currently only Zanaco has a loan facility for farmers.
She called for the revision of the land policy to improve governance as it has also negatively affected agricultural production.
Despite Zambia having abundant land, Ms Siliya said it has not been fully utilised due to an unfavourable policy that has not helped locals to benefit from it.
“I think we need to start looking at land differently. A lot of people have land, but it has not helped to elevate them from poverty. We have to relook at land very critically. And it’s from this asset that productivity must happen. If it’s not giving us value as a country, then we need to revise it [policy],” she said

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