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Zambia intent on transforming agro sector, says Lungu

By MARTIN AKENDE

GOVERNMENT is determined to transform the agriculture sector through research and innovation to enhance food security, President Edgar Lungu has said.

And President Lungu said Zambia is determined to fully domesticate some Technologies for African Agriculture Transformation (TAAT) which the country has benefitted after the three successful pilot projects.

The President said Government was determined to adopt successful innovations aimed at transforming the agriculture sector.

Mr Lungu also called for small- scale farmers to adopt innovative ways of farming to enhance their productivity.

“There is need for small-scale farmers to adopt innovative ways of farming to enhance productivity. Old ways of farming not only limit the size of land cultivated but also make farming more difficult and unattractive especially to the youth,” Mr Lungu said.

The President said this during a High Level Virtual Dialogue on Feeding Africa; Leadership to Scale Up Successful Innovations at State House yesterday.

“Zambia like most countries in Africa, is still experiencing low agricultural productivity despite its rich natural endowment suited to feed itself and the rest of the region. Low agriculture productivity has been worsened by effects of climate change and the Covid-19 pandemic,” he said.

He said the aspirations contained in the Malabo declaration on accelerated agriculture growth and transformation for shared prosperity and improved livelihoods must be attained.

Mr Lungu, however, expressed worry that despite valuable research work done led by Zambia Agriculture Research Institute, Consultative Research Group for International Agriculture Research and other researchers most of their findings were shelved and ordinary farmers were not aware of them.

Meanwhile, the President said Zambia was determined to fully domesticate some Technologies for African Agriculture Transformation (TAAT) which the country has benefitted after the three successful pilot projects.

He said that under the fall army worm compact, TAAT’s fall army worm compact provided chemicals to treat maize seed in the 2019/20 agriculture season, which prevented a catastrophic fall in crop yield.

Mr Lungu stated that under the maize, soya beans and rice plantations, the rain fed smallholder plantations were grown using TAAT approach in 2019 2020 season as well as a 5000 hectares of cassava out grower plantation is being developed.

He added that Government has invested over $45 million in the development of aquaculture value chain supported by the African Development Bank.

The President said the three interventions greatly contributed to enhanced food security both household and national level as evidenced by the bumper harvest that country recorded last season.

President Lungu also took time to congratulate Dr. Akinwumi Adesina for being re-elected as President of the African Development Bank Group.

He said this is a testimony deposited in him to lead Africa’s premier development financing institution.

The high-level virtual dialogue exploring innovative solutions to boost the resilience and productivity of food systems in Africa was co-hosted by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), in partnership with the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA) and CGIAR.

The event brought African heads of State with agricultural research for development experts to shape an agenda of innovative food system solutions that ensures Africa’s food security and nutrition needs are at the centre of their Covid-19 response.

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