Parliament round-up

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Parliament heard yesterday that government has made significant investment in the animal restocking programme and in the establishing of farming blocks country wide.

This came to light when Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Livestock Greyford Monde was responding to a question raised by Kwacha area Member of Parliament Boniface Mutale who wanted to know what plans the government has put in place to create jobs, increase tax revenues and foreign exchange in the agricultural sector.

Mr Monde told the house that government has continued creating an enabling environment in the agriculture sector so has to woo more players in the sector and create the much needed jobs.

He cited irrigation as one of the areas government has pumped huge sums of money to enhance food security throughout the year.

The Deputy Minister told the house that government has plans of adding value to most of the agriculture produce grown locally.

He stated that the processing of value addition to the crops will help to stimulate economic growth and create jobs.

Meanwhile, Chadiza MMD Member of Parliament Allan Mbewe asked what measures the state is making in ensuring that the tobacco prices are attractive to farmers.

Mr Mbewe complained that the current tobacco prices were not good enough resulting in tobacco farmers shunning growing the crop.

In response, Agriculture and Livestock Minister Wilbur Simuusa told Parliament that the production of tobacco has increased compared to last year.

Mr Simuusa insisted that the current pricing of tobacco was good enough hence the bumper harvest of tobacco in the 2013 /14 farming season.

The Minister stated that government has a deliberate policy aimed at encouraging value addition to crop products.

He explained to the house that the classification of tobacco has contributed in pricing challenges of the commodity.

And Mumbwa MMD Member of Parliament Brian Chituwo expressed worry after learning that there is been an increase in the production of tobacco despite tobacco being harmful.

But Agriculture and Livestock Minister Wilbur Simuusa said government has policies and regulations in place to control the production of tobacco.

Mr Simuusa has since congratulated farmers for recording another bumper harvest in the 2013/ 2014 farming season.