By NOEL IYOMBWA
AGRICULTURE remains a very important sector to the government as it touches the hearts of over 80 percent of the country’s population Minister of Fisheries and Livestock Makozo Chikote has said.
Mr. Chikote said that agriculture is one of the key drivers for economic diversification, job creation and income generation for local farmers. He was speaking during the official awarding ceremony of the economic, nutrition, and technical support for increase economic returns and profits in sustainable agribusiness (enterprise) project in Zambia Mr. Chikote said the fisheries and livestock sub sector have received support through the performance enhancement programme for the better service delivery of smallholder farmers (pep ii) and the support to the sustainable commercialization of Zambia’s smallholder farmers.
The minister noted that the European Union remains a trusted partner and that Zambia has enjoyed cordial relationship with the EU and many of its member states to promote economic development since 1975.
“I wish to take this opportunity to thank the EU for the euro 110 million supports to agricultural sectors under the national indicative plan (nip) for Zambia,” He explained that over its lifetime, Enterprise Zambia Challenge Fund (EZCF) will provide eur 20.8m targeting He said Zambian businesses that support productive and market- Integrated smallholder agriculture. adding the fund will provide matching grants to small and medium enterprises to grow their businesses or venture into new businesses that will enhance agriculture production, productivity and value addition.
He challenged the private sector to come up with projects and business ventures that can transform the fisheries and livestock sub-sector which has manifested through the enterprise Zambia challenge fund.
Mr Chikote added that government alone cannot succeed without private sector support in transforming the fisheries and livestock sub sectors.
And Minister of Agriculture Reuben Mtolo said the award ceremony demonstrates government’s commitment to providing an enabling environment to support the growth of agribusinesses and the private sector in Zambia.
“I strongly believe that government’s partnership with the European Union will continue to strengthen over time; and will be broadened to address various bottlenecks affecting the growth of the sector.
The minister said the government was concerned at the high cost of production and the challenges that the industry faces in accessing domestic and international markets. He urged the recipients of the grants to devote their efforts to ensuring they implement their respective projects and implement them to the best of their efforts.
AGRICULTURE IS KEY SECTOR, SAYS MINIST