Commercial Farmers' Union of Zimbabwe

Commercial Farmers' Union of Zimbabwe

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‘Agriculture has potential to stem poverty’

‘Agriculture has potential to stem poverty’

Wednesday, 11 July 2012 19:07


Tabitha Mutenga, Staff Reporter


A Zambian farmer representative has urged Zimbabwean farmers to take farming seriously, saying agriculture was key to poverty alleviation.

Evelyn Nguleka, a Zambian National Farmers Union (ZNFU) representative, told delegates to a Commercial Farmers Union (CFU) congress in Harare  that Zambia had recognised the importance of agriculture to poverty alleviation and had therefore come up with its sixth National Development Plan which runs up to 2016, focusing on the development of livestock, crops and fisheries.

“The importance of developing a vibrant and robust agricultural sector in any country cannot be over emphasised. This is for the simple reason that agriculture opens vast income earning opportunities at farm level and throughout the value chain through value addition,” Evelyn said.

She said Zambia expects to be a middle income country by 2030 through increased agricultural productivity and diversification.

Agricultural policy formulation in Zambia involves the participation of farmers, who are united and speaking with one voice, while Union representation is exhibited on most government structures from the district to national level, she said.

“The scope of the agriculture sector in Zambia is wide with unlimited potential. To this effect, the private sector has been at the helm of marshalling actual production while the focus of government has been that of providing policy direction and investing in the enabling environment,” Nguleka said.

Zambia, once a food importer from Zimbabwe, now enjoys surpluses and currently has excess grain amounting to 800 000 tonnes after producing 2,8 million tonnes, against national consumption of two million tonnes.

The remarkable growth in recent years as represented in the graph above has been attributed to favourable weather conditions for five consecutive years, access to tailor-made loan schemes and massive investment by farmers in irrigation equipment and improved seed varieties.

The Zambian government has also continued implementing an input subsidy programme to achieve food security in maize production.

Soya beans production also doubled this year on account of high demand for feed from the poultry sector.
“Soyabeans production is a success story in Zambia; growth of the soya subsector has further stimulated inve-stments in soya crushing and processing plants. The country will be producing 188
000 tonnes with potential to increase productivity next season,” Nguleka said.

“In wheat, Zambia has moved from being a net importer in 2005 to self sufficiency in 2010. Growth of the wheat subsector has been largely driven by the colossal investments in irrigation equipments such as centre pivots by our farmers.”

“Through policy consistency, Zambia has managed to avert the threats of subsidised and cheap wheat imports on the domestic market and as a result the wheat output is now ready for export as the region is in deficit of this product,” she said.

Nguleka added that Zambia remained a leading producer of sugar in the region with export markets in the European Union.

Despite the success in Zambian agriculture, a number of challenges still inhibit the sector from realising its full potential. 

Some of these challenges include poor road network leading to markets, inadequate extensions services and lack of effective storage facilities, high cost of stock feed and the perpetual threat from subsidised imports.



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