By MAIMBOLWA MULIKELELA –
AGRICULTURE Minister Given Lubinda says there is need to address the issue of high interest rates, low levels of finance and investment in the agriculture sector for the country to attain sustainable growth.
Mr Lubinda said it was important that measures were put in place to address the problem of low production and productivity among the smallholder farmers.
He said this during the African Agricultural Transformational Strategy: Regional Consultations meeting in Lusaka.
“The challenges that we face in the agriculture sector are responsible for the persistent low agriculture production and productivity which has led to weak value chain development.
“We, therefore, need to resolve some of these challenges such as high interest rates, low levels of production and productivity, low levels of mechanisation and high energy costs and transport,” Mr Lubinda said.
He further said the sub-region including Zambia has faced some economic slowdown over the last year mainly due to reduced mineral output, weak pace of economic diversification, contradiction in mineral activities and the energy deficit.
The minister pointed out that Africa needed to open up trade with herself through integrated investment in the flow of goods, capital and human resource.
“In this vein, we as a country greatly value the African Development Bank (AfDB)’s investment in regional infrastructure such as the Nacala corridor, cross-border infrastructure including the Mpulungu port and Kazungula bridge projects,” he said.
He said these projects would add value to the agriculture sector and the intra-regional trade.