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Value addition in agro sector key, says Lubinda

NANCY MWAPE, Livingstone
GOVERNMENT says value addition in agriculture is key to promoting sustainable development and job creation in rural areas.
And Government targets to bring 17,500 hectares of land under irrigation, construct multipurpose dams and upscale sustainable utilisation of wetlands.
Minister of Agriculture and Livestock Given Lubinda said Government is creating an enabling environment for industries and enterprises to engage in value addition of agricultural products.
Mr Lubinda said this during his presentation at Zambia Institute of Chartered Accountants annual business conference in Livingstone.
“Industrialisation anchored on agriculture is the fastest way to achieve poverty reduction, wealth creation and holds the greatest potential for sustained economic growth,” Mr Lubinda said.
He said Government is committed to accelerating implementation of the diversification strategy through crop diversification, livestock breeding centres and promoting aquaculture.
He said Government has embarked on irrigation development to mitigate crop failure, increase resilience of the agricultural sector to climate change and offer farmers the opportunity to grow a variety of crops.
Mr Lubinda also said the ministry is committed to accelerating farm block development for commercialisation of agriculture.
“Each farming block is designed to have at least one core large-scale farm [core venture] of 10 000 hectares. Government has prioritised development of three farm blocks namely Nansanga, Kalumwange and Luena,”Mr Lubinda said.
He said the agriculture sector supports the livelihoods of over 70 percent of the population, mostly rural based households.
He said the sector contributes about 20 percent to gross domestic product (GDP) offering the greatest opportunity for economic growth, poverty reduction, job and wealth creation.
Commenting on aquaculture, Mr Lubinda said the country is able to produce up to 260,000 metric tonnes of fish per year.