Agro-research institutes need more funds, says Lubinda

THERE is need for increased funding to agricultural research institutes if Zambia is to attain the status of regional food basket, Minister of Agriculture Given Lubinda has said.
In an interview at the just ended 90th Zambia Agricultural and Commercial Show, Mr Lubinda said Government is committed to ensuring that agriculture becomes the mainstay of the country’s economy.
“We are not only focusing on diversification from mining but within the agriculture sector we also want to ensure dietary and nutritional diversification but low funding to research institutes such as Zambia Agriculture Research Institute is worrying.”
“We cannot grow the economy through agriculture, if we don’t fund research because nowadays agriculture has evolved to include various technological aspects, so I have advised the PS [Julius Shawa] to upscale budgetary allocation to research institutes,” he said.
Mr Lubinda also challenged the National Agriculture and Information Services (NAIS) to utilise the increased spectrum offered by the digital migration system to start broadcasting a dedicated agriculture channel on the Zambia National Broadcasting Corporation television platform.
He said Zambia cannot continue having more entertainment channels.
“Government intends to make agriculture the mainstay of the economy, hence the need for constant positive messages about this sector should be aired regularly to help generate interest in young people.
“So NAIS should take advantage of the increased spectrum due to digital migration and start broadcasting a dedicated channel on agriculture and related information. It will not necessarily be run by Ministry of Agriculture but there are many stakeholders including the private sector that want to showcase what they offer but have no platform,” he said.
He said the matter is being discussed at technical level.
“The political will is there, NAIS has the expertise, equipment and the content to broadcast, and I don’t think ZNBC, being carrier of carriers, can object to this proposal of having a dedicated channel on agriculture,” Mr Lubinda said.
Currently, NAIS pays ZNBC to have its content shown on the television platform.

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