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GOVERNMENT does not only subsidise production costs for horticulture farming in Mkushi but also animal husbandry.

Private sector cardinal in agro growth

PLAYFUL duels such as ‘shadow boxing’ unlock the recessive potential techniques out of two sparring opponents, whilst in competitive engagement, a ruthless streak is offloaded to fuel the pursuit for victory.
The co-existence or interplay between the organs of State and non-State actors (NGOs) becomes a much desired relationship in as far as the two sectors complementing each other is concerned, thereby bringing the best out of each other.
This symbiosis between the two parties becomes especially important in the development of a district, particularly in areas of agriculture, education and health or in the development of commerce.
“Government recognises public private partnerships as an option for bridging the financing gap for infrastructure development as well as a viable tool that the public sector can use to facilitate efficient service delivery,” an excerpt from chapter three of the Revised Sixth National Development Plan (R-SNDP) reads.
The R-SNDP is being implemented from 2013 to 2016.
Non-governmental organisations (NGOs) such as Zambia Rainbow Development Foundation (ZRDF) have been consistent in constructing schools in both Mkushi and its offspring district of Luano.
ZRDF director Brandy Mungaila says his organisation principally operates in Mkushi chiefdoms of Shaibila, Mulungwe as well as Luano district chiefdoms of Chikupili and Kaundula.
“The schools that we construct in Mkushi and Luano districts are community demand-driven and we facilitate funding from our UK based donors Burnyard Zambia Trust (BZT),” Mr Mungaila said recently during the handover of the K333,000 newly constructed school at Kalungaleka in Kaundula.
“It is our biggest hope that Government will hasten in addressing the staffing issue at the schools we construct to fulfill the community demand for quality education,” BZT patron Patricia Napier added.
“Human resource is a key factor that drives development and education is indispensable in this regard. So, ZRDF is accelerating the development of new districts such as Luano by building schools,” Mary Zulu, the Luano district education board secretary said.
Government’s vision on education aims to facilitate the construction of structures such as schools that will create innovative and productive life long education and training for all by 2030, as stated in the R-SNDP.
Human resource, as a driving factor for development, is crucial to activities that are initiated by both State and non-State actors; so crucial that efforts are made to ensure that this factor of development is maintained in a healthy state for it to be productive.
In the course of fulfilling the R-SNDP vision of ‘equitable access to quality health care for all by 2030,’ Government has embarked on construction of health centres in Mkushi’s Chitina, Mulungwe and Shaibila chiefdoms (two per chiefdom).
“Our overall objective is aimed at ensuring that health services are brought as close to the family and communities as possible,” says Mkushi district commissioner Luka Mwamba.
When Netherlands based NGO World Servants handed over the K126,000 clinic in Mwalabi area to Government recently, its team leader Pieter Hezendonk said his organisation was responding to the challenges experienced by residents who travelled long distances to seek medical treatment.
“World Servants is ready to help communities by building health centres in their areas. I can only implore government to ensure that trained staff are deployed quickly to these clinics,” Mr Hezendonk said.
Meanwhile, Mkushi district agriculture coordinator Chiluba Wabalika said farming is by far the most prevalent survival activity in the district as 88 percent out of Mkushi’s 127,096 people are subsistence farmers.
During a stakeholders forum hosted by Water Resource Management Authority (WARMA), Mr Wabalika said about 12 percent of the district’s population is from the commercial medium scale farming sector.
These statistics entail that agriculture is the major sector of sustainable livelihood in Mkushi. In recognition of this, government has been scaling up the number of beneficiaries of empowerment initiatives such as the Farmer Input Support Programme (FISP).
Mr Wabalika said the number of FISP beneficiaries has seen increased from 17,094 in 2014 to 18,000 this year.
By introducing other empowerment programmes such as the Livestock Matching Grants for small-scale livestock farmer groups, Government has shown that it does not only subsidise production costs for horticulture farming but also animal husbandry.
And Zambia National Farmers Union (ZNFU) central regional manager Josphat Phiri says in recent years, ZNFU has transformed itself from its previous bias towards commercial farmer operations into a wider representation that has incorporated medium and small-scale farmers.
Mr Phiri said ZNFU is in its second year of implementing empowerment programmes for small and medium scale farmers, adding that the impact and response from the beneficiaries has been favourable enough for the union to scale up the programmes.
He said Bunjimi Asset Plus, for instance, a programme being jointly administered by ZNFU and NATSAVE, was incepted in the district as a loan scheme under which farmers access mechanised equipment such as tractors.
He said there are 48 beneficiaries for 2015, whose number is almost double of those who benefited from this empowerment initiative last year.
Mr Phiri said there is also the Lima Credit Scheme under which farm inputs such as fertiliser and seed are loaned out to the beneficiaries, and that more farmers have benefitted from this programme this year than last year.
“We have reached out to small-scale farmers as we acknowledge that they constitute the majority in the agricultural sector, and lack of access to loans as well as mechanised equipment have been long standing challenges for such farmers,” he said.
The fact that agriculture constitutes the largest segment of economic activities in Mkushi, sets forth a notion that merits agriculture to dominate the Private Sector Development (PSD) efforts for the district.
In the R-SNDP, Government has outlined several goals related to PSD such as developing a comprehensive programme for economic diversification, increasing private sector and formal sector employment as well as strengthening financing mechanisms for Micro, Small and Medium, Scale Enterprises (MSMEs) development.
When Central Province permanent secretary Edwidge Mutale addressed civil servants during her recent visit to Mkushi, she urged the workers to focus on helping implement government development programmes to maximise the economic potential of the district.
“Civil servants in Mkushi should take a leading role in efforts to exploit the economic potential of the district, and this encompasses primary production such as crops and minerals, or secondary production pertaining to processing of the raw produce,” Ms Mutale said.
As the civil service is the implementing agency or machinery for implementing government policy, Ms Mutale’s call on civil servants to work hard was timely especially that it came from an officer who sits at the apex of the civil service in the province. ZANIS