OVER US$100 million, released for agricultural projects is still unutilised

Workers tend to the maize crops on Millers Farm Lusaka, in Zambia, March 17, 2003. An initiative from the International Fund for Agricultural development helps female farmers in Zambia with HIV raise goats. Salim Henry:AP:File

OVER US$100 million, released for agricultural projects countrywide, is still unutilised two years after the money was given by donors.
Government is concerned that the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock has failed to utilise the US$115 million which was released for irrigation projects by the World Bank.
Minister of Finance Alexander Chikwanda said out of the total facility given by the World Bank two years ago, only US$11 million has so far been used.

“At the moment, as a ministry which disburses funds and also which is accountable and responsible for national planning, we have worries at the ministries’ capacity to generate bankable projects.
“At the end of the day there is a lot of unspent balances and also even external borrowings.
“For instance, the World Bank gave us a loan of US$115 million two years ago to use for irrigation facility. So far as at April only US$11 million has been used which is 10 percent of the total fund,” Mr Chikwanda told a media briefing in Lusaka recently.

He said it was very embarrassing for him after the information was given on the unspent balances as he is planning to travel to Washington DC to attend a spring meeting this month.
“We have since put pressure on the ministry to have the money utilised and it is currently moving fast. The ministry should ensure speedy implementation of projects,” he said.
Zambia, together with the World Bank, is implementing a US$115 million irrigation development and support project targeting small-scale producers.
The project involves the provision of bulk water infrastructure through construction of dams, establishment of canals and irrigation schemes.

Zambia Daily Mail