CHARLES CHISALA, Rome
THE International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) has pledged to support Zambiaâ€™s efforts to diversify its economy to agriculture.
Its president, Kanayo Nwanze, said in Rome yesterday that the falling commodity prices on the international market are a reminder that nations must put more emphasis on agriculture.
Dr Nwanze was speaking shortly after holding private talks with President Lungu at the IFAD headquarters in the Italian capital in the afternoon.
The talks lasted about 20 minutes.
â€œIFAD will do its best to support Zambia in its efforts to diversify to agriculture because it is the only mainstay of the countryâ€™s economy. I assured your President that we will fully support his efforts,â€ he said.
Dr Nwanze said IFAD has recognised the success of the Farmer Input Support Programme (FISP) through which the government has been supporting small-scale farmers with subsidised farm inputs.
â€œBecause of the successful subsidy programme, Zambia has been producing surplus maize for several years, which has benefited other countries in the region,â€ he said.
Dr Nwanze said IFAD is implementing a robust programme in Zambia aimed at promoting adaptation among small-scale farmers because of their vulnerability to such challenges as climate change.
He said IFAD will also support Zambiaâ€™s efforts to mitigate the effects of climate change on the country because it has a negative impact on the rural poor.
He said he had a positive discussion with the President.
â€œWe sympathise with the drought that is ravaging southern Africa, including Zambia. We shall support efforts to mitigate the effects of climate change,â€ Dr Nwanze said.
â€œIt is a great honour to have His Excellency the President of Zambia visit our headquarters. We had a very positive interaction. You have a vibrant President,â€ he said.
President Lungu was accompanied by his special assistant for press and public relations Amos Chanda, Minister of Foreign Affairs Harry Kalaba, special assistant for political affairs Kaizer Zulu, Zambiaâ€™s Ambassador to Italy Getrude Mwape and other senior government officials.
CHARLES CHISALA, Rome