Analysis: ISAAC BANDA
I MUST remind all of us that this is the time to relieve our 2017 fatigue in order to give way to a re-energised and re-aligned mental fortitude that will be able to confront any challenges we may face ahead of us in the New Year.
It is important for all of us to realise that the Zambian government would like to place agriculture at the core of the country’s economy aside mining.
Zambia National Service (ZNS) Kafue, like all the other ZNS units, is therefore expected to implement to the fullest this shift in government policy.
We must realise that this shift has been wholly embraced by ZNS command and is being vigorously implemented in all other service units.
ZNS Kafue, therefore, needs to follow suit by quickly working on a robust expansion programme of its production activities.
As a starting point, command would like to see the poultry section significantly expanded by building additional pens that should accommodate at least 10,000 birds at any given time in order to increase the number of eggs the unit should produce per day in 2018.
We cannot afford to be ranked among small-scale poultry farmers when we have what it takes to go at least semi-commercial.
Further, command’s expectation is that we should expand the horticultural section to at least five hectares so that we become major suppliers of vegetables in Kafue and towns beyond where there is a yawning market.
In order to achieve this feat, there is need to work collectively as well as provide inspirational leadership.
It is only when we work as a team that we are able to achieve positive results in the shortest possible time.
It is encouraging to note how active the unit has been in conducting operations of national importance.
The professional manner with which the unit undertook the task of bringing under control the 2017 challenge of rampant smuggling of our staple food – maize, together with its products, by some unscrupulous businessmen deserves special recognition.
Further, during the 2016/2017 farming season, our country suffered an invasion of army worms, which ravaged our farmers’ maize fields in several parts of the country.
It took the deployment of service personnel, which included officers and men, to arrest the imminent devastation by assisting local farmers to spray the fields and reverse the possible food insecurity that could have resulted from the vice.
I am, therefore, a bearer of command’s message of commendation to all for the dedication and patriotism that you exhibited during the execution of the said tasks.
On the other hand, I wish to hasten to alert you of yet another imminent invasion of army worms. There are growing reports of ravaging worms sporadically attacking field crops even this season.
ZNS command, therefore, urges the school commander, to keep troops on standby and exhibit the same spirit exhibited during the maize anti-smuggling operation as well as the anti-army worm fight, should the service be called upon to assist farmers to spray their fields again.
Government has identified the defence forces as being pivotal in the country’s ambitious economic diversification programme, especially in peace time.
Apart from gravitating towards increased agricultural production, government has also put high premium on industrialisation, which, therefore, brings me to one of this unit’s businesses, which is small scale industry.
The Ministry of Defence, through ZNS command, is working out ways and means to recapitalise the small scale industries in the ZNS to make them more viable for them to compete in the business environment.
It is gratifying to note that this unit has the necessary basic expertise to produce quality products as can be attested by the contribution you made towards the service’s scooping of the first prize in the “best made in Zambia” category at this year’s national agricultural and commercial show in Lusaka.
ZNS command recognises the commendable efforts you have made so far to enhance the performance of your foundry, furniture and metal fabricating workshop and is urging you to exert even more energies on continued revolutionalisation of this important sector.
It is imperative that you adopt a programme of consistently investing part of earnings in fixed assets like acquiring plots, building or purchasing houses and not wait until when time comes for retirement.
Command does not want to see any of us become destitute after serving our country well.
The author is Zambia National Service chief of audit and inspections.