Editor's Comment

Sugar plantation another boost to agro sector

THE decision by an Indian firm Nava Bharat to set up a sugar cane plantation in the Luena farm block in Kawambwa is the kind of step Zambia needs to actualise its quest to boost agriculture.
The investment is also evidence of the unexploited potential in the sector.
This is also proof that farm blocks are still viable and can contribute to the growth of the agriculture sector despite setbacks in the past.
To facilitate setting up of the sugar plantation, which is expected to create over 2,000 jobs, Government has given Nava Bharat 10,000 hectares of land in the farm block.
It is good that feasibility studies have already started and the firm is on the ground surveying the land and doing demarcations.
Such ventures are needed and the plantation in particular is timely especially that Government is working towards developing a sustainable, diversified and competitive agriculture sector.
This is in a bid to ensure greater economic stability and growth.
Government is interested in ensuring that more investors establish enterprises to create jobs to improve the livelihoods of the people.
Farm blocks have tremendous potential to boost agriculture and enhance the much-needed job creation if provided with support infrastructure.
Recently Government entered into a memorandum of understanding with a Chinese firm to carry out feasibility studies on 340,000 hectares of land in Northern Province to develop farm blocks.
The feasibility studies are expected to outline investment opportunities and facilitate for construction of modern infrastructure such as roads, hospitals, irrigation schemes, housing units and power generation hubs.
For a long time now, lack of infrastructure has been one of the major hindrances to investment in agriculture.
It is therefore inspiring that Government, through its MoU with a Chinese firm, will be able to develop farm blocks as well as support infrastructure across the country.
In this year’s budget, Government has allocated K8.6 billion to road infrastructure in a bid to enhance accessibility of farming areas as well as markets.
Government also intends to set up 20 irrigation schemes while scaling up the sustainable utilisation of wetlands this year alone.
In farm blocks Government also intends to take advantage of public private partnerships to implement more projects.
In the 2017 budget, Government has allocated K428.5 million for irrigation development to support crop production all year round.
Government also realises that extension services are a critical component of the agriculture sector and is therefore working to utilise ICT to improve the delivery of extension services to farmers.
These efforts will no doubt help a firm like Nava Bharat to flourish in its agricultural activities while attracting more investment to a sector which is earmarked to become the country’s economic mainstay.
While we appreciate and welcome foreign investors as partners in development, we also expect Zambians with the capacity to take part by investing in agriculture and helping grow the economy and subsequently eradicating poverty, which has haunted the country for a long time.

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