By MAIMBOLWA MULIKELELA –
THE Government will review the current concept of farming blocs to determine their impact on food security and economic diversification, Agriculture and Livestock Minister Wybur Simuusa has said.
Mr Simuusa said the Government was expected to review whether the farming blocs have achieved their full potential to attain economic diversification and growth.
In an interview in Lusaka, Mr Simuusa said the farming blocs were mainly established to promote crop diversification, create value addition and accelerate economic development.
Mr Simuusa was not happy with the pace at which the farming blocs were being developed saying that each farm block was designed to have core venture, commercial farmers, medium scale, emergent and small scale farmers.
“Farms were supposed to be arranged in an out-grower cluster arrangement where core venture coordinates production and provide market thrust. It is important that we undertake this review because only one farm bloc has been developed since 2004,” Mr Simuusa said.
He said in the Nansanga farming bloc the Government had developed the backbone infrastructure such as roads, electricity, irrigation, dams and bulk water supply to small scale farmers.
Mr Simuusa said the concept of the farming blocs was meant to attract investment and provide opportunities for sugar production and processing, fisheries, livestock, agricultural inputs, machinery and equipment.
“When you look at the concept from the time it was supposed to be implemented you will discover that out of the 10 only one has at least been developed hence the need to do a review on this,” he said.
One farm bloc was targeted for development in each province.
Agriculture has been identified as one of the engines to economic development hence the need to develop it as the mainstay of the economy.
Zambia provides a rich natural resource base for agricultural investment in form of land and quality fresh water.