By JUDITH NAMUTOWE? –
IMPROVED intensive extension services will trigger growth of the?agricultural sector as well as economic growth, Finance Minister?Alexander Chikwanda has said.
Mr Chikwanda said it was Government’s belief that improved extension?services would deliver upgraded agronomy and higher yields which would improve the income prospects for small scale farmers.
Mr Chikwanda was speaking during the joint Cooperating Partners Group (CPG) and Government two-day conference on Zambia’s way forward with the theme ‘Inclusive Growth and Job Creation’ in Lusaka on Monday evening.
He said people in the rural areas were involved in the production of?various items but that they still remained poor because they were?unable to get reasonable reward for the labour even after pushing the?producer price, high.
“This is because in most parts of the country, the yields per acre are?low due to inadequate agronomy or as a result of cultivating in?inappropriate ecological zones. Important as other sectors including?mining and tourism are, agriculture should remain the mainstay of our?economy,” Mr Chikwanda said.
He said there were no miracles for countries that had recorded?economic success such as Brazil, which was the largest producer of?coffee, cotton, sugar, and orange juice among others.
He said the resource outlay by Brazil, on extension and research was?substantial and that this was the route that Zambia needed to take in?order to ensure optimal benefits from agriculture which offered best?prospects for growing the country.
He said the cost and gestation in agriculture where immensely lower in?relation to sectors such as mining.?“Government has started going this direction by ensuring that the?extension officers in the districts have improved mobility and that?has been done by furnishing them with motor bikes.
The rewards and?prospects are abundant in terms of economic growth and job creation.?We have not paid attention in recent times to forestry and yet this?sector can provide lot of jobs than others sectors we depend on,” he?said.
International Labour Organisation (ILO) assistant director general and?Africa regional director Aeneas Chuma said the extractive industry in?Zambia could not catalyze the creation of job across the sectors of?the economy and prompt inclusive and broad based economic growth?unless integrated macroeconomic policies were put in place to support?the strategy.
He said ILO had in the recent years sought to unlock a solution in?terms of achieving inclusive growth and job creation, particularly in?countries dependent on the extractive industry like Zambia.
“Generally inclusive growth has been described as broad-based economic growth, which entails not only the expansion of economic activities reflected in Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth figures, but also processes and policies that provide economic opportunities for people in all sectors through the creation of sustainable and decent jobs?for all,” he said.