–President Michael Sata has addressed the 22nd African Union (AU) Heads of State and Government Summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, with a call for African leaders to come up with sound strategies to bridge the financing gaps in national agricultural initiatives.
President Sata, however, said Zambia is fully committed to the implementation of the Maputo Declaration on the Comprehensive African Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) which the country launched in 2006.
The President said with the support of the African Union through the New Economic Partnership for African Development (NEPAD) and other partners, Zambia has made tremendous progress in the implementation of CAADP.
The CAADP is an initiative of the African Union launched in 2004 during its Summit in Maputo, Mozambique, and is aimed at comprehensively addressing issues of hunger, poverty and food insecurity in Africa in a more sustainable manner.
The 2014 AU Heads of State and Government Summit is being held under the theme ‘Agriculture and Food Security’ coinciding with the 10 years anniversary of the Comprehensive African Agriculture Development Programme whose progress the leaders are also reviewing during the on-going meeting.
And President Sata told the AU Summit plenary meeting today that as the African leaders reflected on where the continent was ten years after the CAADP Maputo Declaration, they are reminded of their collective commitment to comprehensively address food insecurity.
The President said there is need, therefore, to continue on the path of CAADP implementation in order to address the challenges and to attain the goals set for achieving food security, poverty reduction and income for the people because agriculture continues to play a cardinal role in the economic growth of most African countries.
“In my country, Zambia, for instance, the agricultural sector contributes more than 18 per cent to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and equally important it is the main source of livelihood and income for more than 78 per cent of the rural Zambian population”, said President Sata.
The President noted that his government firmly believes that the CAADP framework provides a realistic approach to reducing poverty by focusing on how to improve the income of the people and attaining food security for the most vulnerable who include unemployed youths, women and children.
President Sata said Zambia’s commitment to the implementation of the programme is further exhibited by the country’s local and foreign investment initiatives in the agricultural sector undertaken after broad consultations with stakeholders.
“Through broad stakeholder consultations, we have developed a national agricultural investment plan for agricultural development which provides an overall investment framework for the sector and is in tandem with the country’s National Development Plan”, said President Sata.
President Sata, however, noted that all these important initiatives require sustained investment in the agricultural sector in line with the recommendations of the Maputo Declaration hence the need for African countries to work together and come up with sound strategies to bridge possible financing gaps.
He said with reference to financing the CAADP, Zambia had for her part increased allocations to the agricultural sector and embarked on resource mobilization initiatives with cooperating partners for support in co-financing its national agricultural investment plan.
“I am pleased to inform you that in September, 2013, Zambia was among the developing countries that were allocated a grant of US$31.12 million from the Global Agriculture and Food Security Programme to support the implementation of her investment plan and we are grateful for this,” President Sata told the meeting.
The President urged his fellow African leaders to make sustainable investment decisions that will have an impact on the agricultural sector and subsequently produce long term benefits for the people as the continental body celebrates the 10th Anniversary of CAADP.
He was accompanied to the plenary meeting by Agriculture Minister, Bob Sichinga, Foreign Affairs minister, Wylbur Simusaa and Zambia’s Ambassador to Ethiopia, Susan Sikaneta.