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Increase food production to reduce imports – Lubinda

CASUSAL workers stacking up sacks of Irish Potatoes for transportation to Lusaka. The Potatoes are imported from Tanzania. PICTURE: BRIAN MALAMA.

KELLY NJOMBO, Lusaka
GOVERNMENT has called on the private sector to invest more and exploit the agriculture industry to reduce the country’s dependence on food imports.
Minister of Agriculture and Livestock Given Lubinda said Zambia is among the many African countries with vast agricultural opportunities and natural resources that need to be fully exploited.
Mr Lubinda said at the policy workshop for the ZNFU Farm Risk Management for Africa (FARMAF) on Tuesday, that it is time that African countries addressed various challenges affecting the development of agriculture through private sector partnerships.
He said Africa has the capacity to produce enough food to feed people globally through well-managed resources.
“It is important to recognise the fact that Zambia and African countries are well endowed with largely untapped resources such as abundant land, water, human resource … But to the contrary, African countries are still depending on food imports despite having the capacity to produce enough food to feed the whole world,” he said.
Mr Lubinda said Government has been supporting small-scale farmers through the farmer input support programme which has resulted in the country recording bumper production levels of maize.
He, however, said the demand for technology and inputs support by small-scale farmers in the country remains high, hence the need for the private sector to participate in improving access to inputs and technology.
“As Government, we believe that the private sector should play a leading role through increasing primary production and exploiting the provision of agribusiness services for value addition and supply of other goods and services to the sector,” he said.
Mr Lubinda said there is also need to encourage meetings that will enable key stakeholders; private sector and Government discuss issues pertaining to the development of the agriculture sector and the country as a whole.

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