PRESIDENT Edgar Lungu says he will not politicise food production. He also says government alone cannot manage to purchase surplus produce from farmers.
“This is not going to be a political statement, so when those colleagues of us who are politicians talk about this, I will say sorry. Listen to the farmers… I’m saying this because Zambians have got the tendency to politicise everything. I am not going to politicise food production,” President Lungu said at the opening of the 113th Zambia National Farmers Union annual congress at Mulungushi International Conference Centre yesterday.
He said efficient agricultural markets were key to improving the welfare of farmers.
The head of state said colossal amounts of financial resources were required for purchase of produce from farmers.
“However, government alone cannot manage to purchase surplus produce from farmers,” he said. “Participation of the private sector in grain marketing is cardinal as they are also key players in value addition processes. I wish to therefore implore the private sector to come on board and play a leading role in agricultural marketing.”
President Lungu urged financial institutions, notably the banking sector to avail the much needed finances to the private sector for purchase of agricultural produce at reasonable terms.
He noted that during the 2017/2018 agricultural season, the country recorded increases in the production of groundnuts, rice, mixed beans, cassava and barley tobacco, among others.
President Lungu said Zambia produced 2,394,907 metric tonnes of maize.
“As a country, we need to fully leverage this by increasing production of a wide range of food products, such as crops, livestock and fish,” said President Lungu.