Lubinda to recommend funding for crop diversification

MINISTER of Agriculture and Livestock Given Lubinda will soon take to Cabinet recommendations to include funding of other crops under-Farmer Input Support Programme (FISP) to facilitate crop diversification.
Mr Lubinda said other than maize; Government wants to promote crop diversification, especially in the wake of climate change.
He said, “Crop diversification is important and therefore, he will soon seek Cabinet approval to start funding other crops such as soya beans and groundnuts, under the FISP initiative.”
Mr Lubinda said Government is expected to export 800,000 tonnes of maize this year although it is mindful not deplete the reserves following the poor rainfall pattern experienced early this year.
The minister said this when he met Eastern Province Permanent Secretary Chanda Kasolo last week before officiating at a three-day agri-business finance fair in Chipata that exports will be monitored to avoid grain traders exploiting farmers who need to get the value for their produce.
“This year, we shall export about 800,000 tonnes of maize, but will not allow anyone to export the grain without getting an export permit,” he said.
Mr Lubinda cautioned farmers to stock enough grain instead as they export, saying no one will starve despite the poor rainfall patten experienced early this year.
Meanwhile, officiating at the fair, Mr Lubinda urged farmers to explore new methods of farming to ensure food security for all.
“You should ensure that those that are failing to have three meals can start having all the meals in a day,” he said.
He said over eight million people globally, including Zambia, are facing hunger, hence the need for farmers to start processing food.
Government is introducing milling plants in all the provinces to ensure that mealie meal is processed to reduce the cost of the commodity and also help create jobs for the local people.
He said Government will continue with the Farmer Input Support Programme (FISP) but urged current beneficiaries to graduate and give chance to other in the next four years.
At the same function, Agri Pro Focus country co-ordinator Claire van der Kleij said the fair was the second to be hosted after Southern Province, and is aimed at supporting the development of agric-businesses by improving access to financial services and credit facilities.
Finance Branch manager Anderson Zulu said farmers’ dependence on FISP should end.
“Farmers should learn to be independent and invest,” Mr Zulu said.

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