Interview with the Zambian Minister of Agriculture and Livestock

  • March 28, 2016
“The only sector that assuredly alleviates poverty is agriculture. Our focus is to grow this industry that is the future of this country.” Exclusive interview with the Zambian Minister of Agriculture and Livestock, the Honourable Given Lubinda. The minister is expected to be at the upcoming Agritech Expo in Chisamba from 14-16 April again.
Honourable minister, thank you for this opportunity, you said in an interview recently that the government wants to transform agriculture in Zambia. Can you share your vision with us?
Agriculture is the future of Zambia. We have depended on the extractive industries over the last 50 years. I usually ask the question: Will copper see us through another 50 years? My categorical answer is NO. Copper has brought us where we are but the only sector that assuredly alleviates poverty is agriculture. Our focus is to grow this industry that is the future of this country.
Caption: Zambian President, H.E Mr Edgar Lungu (middle), Dr Evelyn Nguleka, ZNFU President (second from right) and (far right) Zambia’s Minister for Agriculture and Livestock, H.E. Given Lubinda listen to a presentation at Agritech Expo in April 2015.
Are there particular farming sectors that are earmarked for investment?
For us to develop the agricultural industry, there are a number of sectors that we will have to invest in and implement programmes.
(a) The Farmer Input Support Programme. The Cabinet has approved the expansion of the FISP electronic voucher system in the 2016/17 season. This means that the e-voucher system will expand beyond the 13 trial districts in which it was implemented in the 2015/16 season. We are happy with the results of the pilot phase in the 13 districts where we managed to weed out 20,000 ghost beneficiaries; people who were not intended beneficiaries.(b) Agricultural diversification: Not only did we achieve some level of diversification with the pilot e-voucher we also want to promote diversification in the conventional FISP. Our focus is to encourage farmers diversify crops and livestock. With crops, we want to encourage them grow protein-rich leguminous crops such as soya beans, cow peas, beans and ground nuts. Even in the maize cluster we will encourage them to grow orange maize, which is more nutritious.(c) Promotion of irrigation: As a response to climate change the government is investing heavily in irrigation. Zambia has a potential to irrigate 2.5 million hectares of land but so far only 10% of that is under irrigation. The government will open up 6,000 hectares of land for irrigation. Already, 11,000 hectares of land has been opened up in Lusitu, Mwomboshi and Musakashi.(d) Mechanisation: The government will soon start making available farming implements to small scale farmers. We want to transform agriculture but this transformation will not happen with a hand hoe. Mechanization will help us achieve agricultural revolution.

How important are partnerships with the private sector to move agriculture forward?
It is the position of the government to let the private sector lead agricultural production. The role of the government is to give the private sector opportunities and an enabling environment. The reasoning is simple: The private sector has the ability to invest and produce more efficiently than the government can ever do.
You accompanied President Lungu to last year’s Agritech Expo hosted by the ZNFU – what were your most lasting impressions of the event?
I must say that I was impressed with the quality of organisation and the level of participation by a wide variety of people from several countries and agricultural sub-sectors in the Expo. It tells you that farmers are willing to develop themselves so that they can produce efficiently. And platforms for learning, networking and information sharing such as the Agritech Expo are very important in achieving our goals.

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