State to continue promoting agriculture

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PRESIDENT Sata says his administration will continue placing emphasis on the promotion of agriculture as it is key to enhancing food security in the country.
Mr Sata said the Patriotic Front (PF) government will enhance the use of science and technology in pursuit of its policy objective of achieving a competitive, diversified and sustainable agriculture sector.
The President said this in Lusaka yesterday when he officially opened the Third Session of the Eleventh National Assembly.
“The agriculture sector is key to ensuring national food and nutritional security, mitigating high poverty levels and creating job opportunities,” he said.
Mr Sata also said his government’s focus next year is continued investment in the crop diversification programme so that the country can record a six percent annual growth in the sub-sector.
He said to achieve the projected growth, government will, among other things, continue to re-capitalise Nitrogen Chemicals of Zambia (NCZ).
President Sata said in addition, government will continue restructuring the Farmer Input Support Programme (FISP) which aims at providing farm inputs to about 900, 000 small scale farmers in the country.
He said this will be complemented by up-scaling the electronic voucher system.
“To increase productivity among small scale farmers, government will focus its efforts on modernising agricultural production through science, technology and mechanisation.
“In addition, government will promote good agricultural practices which will include conservation agriculture, use of improved seed varieties and diversify on-farm activities. The measure will be supplemented by enhanced extension services,” President Sata said.
To reduce over dependence on rain-fed agriculture, President Sata said government will release 17,000 hectares of land for irrigation farming by 2016, adding that over 4,500 hectares of land is now under irrigation farming.
Mr Sata said government will also continue promoting increased livestock production and productivity by raising the number and quality of various genetically superior breeds of livestock.
He further said government will continue promoting aquaculture through the establishment of fish hatcheries and lake- based nurseries across the country.
And President Sata said government will soon review the Maize Marketing Act to address the challenges currently being experienced in the crop marketing exercise.
Mr Sata said government will also increase the storage capacity by a further 450, 000 metric tonnes, bringing the total to 1.3 million metric tonnes.
“Construction and rehabilitation of storage facilities will continue to bring the required minimum national storage capacity to two million.
“The measure in the agriculture sector will lead to job creation and increased income generation, which will contribute to poverty reduction,” he said.