PRESIDENT Edgar Lungu has directed the Zambia National Service to invest fully, both equipment and personnel in Luapula, North Western, and Northern provinces where weather conditions are ideal for agriculture.
During the 2019 Zambia National Service headquarters officers’ annual ball held in the ZNS Chamba Valley banquet hall on Friday, President Lungu said this move would ensure that the service maximises production to not only feed the said provinces but to also the dry provinces.
He said the vast tracts of virgin land in the provinces needed to be cultivated.
President Lungu said climate change had impacted different sectors with agriculture and energy being the most affected.
He said the harsh and at times unpredictable weather conditions had not only driven the prices of the staple food upwards, but had also affected economic activities of both commercial and small scale businesses in many ways.
He said going by the unpredictable weather pattern affecting the region and the country, people need to urgently re-focus their priorities.
President Lungu said this called for people to start practising smart agriculture.
He said the early distribution of inputs by the government and the timely preparation of fields for various farm operations by the farmers would amount to nothing if smart agricultural practices were nor embraced as a country.
President Lungu said he had been following the happenings in the Zambia National Service closely, and he was happy the officers, servicemen and women, had started adjusting their agricultural production activities to cushion the impact of climate change.
“I have just returned from Luapula Province, a province that has little large scale farming, and yet it is endowed with good rainfall and good soils. Luapula right now is experiencing good rainfall and the Luapula River is beaming with lots of water. Contrast this with the Zambezi and Luangwa rivers where water has run dry; and rainfall is scanty,” he said. “I, therefore, direct you to invest fully, both equipment and personnel in Luapula, North Western, and Northern Provinces where weather conditions are ideal for agriculture. This move will ensure that you maximise production to not only feed the said provinces but to also feed the dry provinces. The vast tracts of virgin land in these provinces need to be cultivated.”
He said this was not to say there shall be no agriculture activities in the drought affected provinces.
“I am aware, for instance, that the service is now directing its energies towards irrigated agriculture. This will no doubt mitigate the effects of drought that the country has been grappling with in the recent past. I urge you to make maximum use of the centre pivot irrigation systems which government has procured for you to ensure sustainable food production. To this effect, I am directing you commandant, together with your officers, to double your efforts to ensure that enough soyabeans and wheat by-products are produced to stabilise the market prices,” he said.
President Lungu applauded the service for its contribution towards national development.
He said this was in addition to the service personnel being deployed along the borders of the country to curtail possible smuggling of goods, especially of maize and maize products.
President Lungu said he envisioned a Zambia National Service that would truly be versatile and be able to supply the Zambian market and beyond with quality goods and services.
He said once this was achieved, the living standards of the people, especially the poor, would be uplifted as they would be able to access internationally accepted goods and services from the local market which will be competitively priced without necessarily having to cross borders.
President Lungu said the government was happy to see that considerable progress had been made in establishing milling plants which would be managed by the Zambia National Service.
He said the construction of the industrial milling plants in Monze and Mpika had steadily advanced, and the government was eager to see to it that the plants become operational as soon as possible in order for them to start supplying affordable mealie-meal and other maize products to Zambian.
President Lungu said it was pleasing to learn that the service had continued with the expansion of the hectarage to be put under crop in spite of the adverse weather the country was experiencing.
“I want you to break your own record by producing enough maize, wheat and soya beans to beef up national strategic food reserves. You have an onerous task to contribute to the national food basket. We have all it takes as a country to ensure massive production hence there is no need for any Zambian to sleep hungry. We have to do it and we shall do it. Once wheat and soyabeans are offloaded on the market, there will be price stability and ultimately in prices of mealie-meal, cooking oil, bread, among many other essential commodities will be affordable to the majority of our people,” he said.
He said Zambians were looking up to them, the men and women in uniform, to not only provide military security to the nation but also provide food security.