By HELEN ZULU -
THE European Union (EU) has set aside 87 million Euros for agricultural support in Zambia.
EU ambassador to Zambia and the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) Alessandro Mariani said the EU had planned over 87 million Euros for agriculture support in Zambia.
Mr Mariani said the union was in discussions with Agriculture Minister Given Lubinda to see how best the planned support for the agriculture sector would respond to the needs of the farmers in the country.
He said in an interview that the EU was working together with the minister to ensure that farmers in the country started taking agriculture as a business.
“We are committed to supporting the agriculture sector in Zambia because we have seen the potential that it has to alleviating poverty among the people especially in the rural areas.
“Apart from the 10 million Euros Conservation Agriculture Scaling Up (CASU) project being implemented in 31 districts in the country, we have also planned 87 million Euros for agriculture sector support in Zambia,” Mr Mariani said.
He said some of the things they were being discussed included the need to ensure that farmers received the farming inputs on time and finding the market for farmers to sell their products through a number of possible buyers that were able to pay well.
Mr Mariani explained that farmers had the potential of performing well provided they had all the requirements like farming inputs, machinery and knowledge on best practices.
The CASU project being implemented by the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and the Ministry of Agriculture was expected to benefit 21,000 Lead Farmers (LF) and at least 315,000 Follower
Farmers (FF) of which at least 40 per cent would be women.
The goal of this project was to contribute to reduced hunger, improved food security, nutrition and income while promoting sustainable use of natural resources in Zambia by 2017.