By JUDITH NAMUTOWE
in SOLWEZI –
GOVERNMENT has urged the Zambia National Farmers Union (ZNFU) to partner with it in marketing the agricultural potential in an effort to attract serious investors into North-Western Province.
North-Western Province Permanent Secretary Amos Malupenga said, with the increase in population and economic activities due to mining activities, the market for agricultural produce had also increased, hence the need for ZNFU to help market this great potential.
“I wish to appeal to ZNFU to help market this great agricultural potential so as to attract serious investors in North-Western Province,” Mr Malupenga said.
Mr Malupelenga was speaking during the 2014 ZNFU Regional Planning meeting for North-Western Province held at Chiko Inn in Solwezi on Wednesday.
The permanent secretary said the province had great agricultural potential in crops and livestock due to good rainfall, lots of rivers and fertile soils, but that for a while, this potential had not been exploited and as such, North-Western did not have many large farms.
Mr Malupenga noted that despite ZNFU presence in the area, agricultural production had not significantly improved in the province.
“But if well-marketed, the province can attract serious investors who can be able to assist boost this potential in agricultural production in the area,” he said.
He said Government would continue to support the agricultural sector in the country to help citizens reach acceptable levels of household food security and be able to generate enough income to support their families.
Mr Malupenga appealed to farmers in the province to take advantage of the programmes and opportunities ZNFU was offering to boost their agricultural production.
“ Iam aware that ZNFU has continued to supplement Government’s efforts by linking farmers to affordable inputs under the Lima Credit Scheme, Bunjimi Asset Plus and other services which the farmers so much needed,” Mr Malupenga said.
He noted that, organising small-scale farmers into formidable associations and farmer groups helps improve both public and private sector extension service provision as it lowers costs, and make agricultural marketing and trade facilitation feasible and more economical.
“You will agree with me that with well-organised farmer associations and groups, Government and other donor funded rural development programmes and projects will find it easier to provide services to farming households of North-Western Province.
‘‘But whilst it is good to have farmers associations, I wish to urge you to be careful with bogus associations which do not mean well to the farmers,” he said.
Mr Malupenga said the Government had made headway in ensuring that farmers received farming inputs in good time for them to plant early.
He said the province had already received about 60 per cent of the D Compound fertiliser for 2014/15 farming season.
At the same occasion, ZNFU president Evelyn Nguleka disclosed that Zanaco had agreed to increase funding to farmers from the initial five to 30 hectares under the bank’s Lima Credit scheme.
Dr Nguleka said the union negotiated for an expansion in the number of hectares after realising that five hectares was not adequate.