Farmers urged to make Zambia food basket for region


GOVERNMENT is determined to make Zambia the food basket of southern Africa to contribute significantly to the global food supply chain, Minister of Agriculture Given Lubinda has said.
Mr Lubinda said farmers must diversify to ensure a variety of crops for consumption as well as for sale.
“We invite investors in the agriculture sector to help Zambia pursue this important agenda of becoming a bread basket by contributing to the growth of the sector,” he said.
Mr Lubinda said this during the official opening of the 2016 Joint Pan-African Grain Legume and World Cowpea conference in Livingstone.
The meeting was held under the theme: “Sustainable grain legume systems for food, income and nutrition security in a rapidly changing climate”.
He said the theme of the conference is appropriate as it comes at a time when Africa and Zambia are grappling with the challenges of diversifying agriculture to sustainable levels in view of the impact of climate change.
The minister said agriculture today is faced with a number of challenges such as drought, land degradation, poor access to yield enhancing technologies, unreliable markets and low agro-processing and value addi-tion.
He observed that access to high-yielding and drought-resistant seed varieties among small-scale farmers in Africa remains a major challenge.
Mr Lubinda said any efforts aimed at promoting commercialisation of legumes should be supported.
He said Africa needs agriculture mechanisation, smart agriculture and introduction of digital or ICT solution.
Mr Lubinda said Government considers growth in the agriculture sector vital to attaining the long-term vision for Zambia to become “a prosperous middle income nation by 2030”.

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