Wednesday 14 May 2014

Zambia Targets 4 Million Maize Metric Tonnes Harvest For 2014/2015 Farming Season

By Paul Shalala in Kafue

Zambia has flagged off its distribution of farming inputs for the 2014/2015 agriculture season with an ambitious target of producing a 4 million metric tonnes maize bumper harvest.

This comes barely a week after the announcement that in the 2013/2014 farming season, Zambia has recorded a projected 3.3 million metric tonnes maize bumper harvest.

Agriculture Minister Wylbur Simusa, who flagged the exercise, says the 4 million metric tonnes is achievable if the farming imputs are delivered on time to all districts.

“Am directing all Provincial and District Agriculture Coordinating Officers to ensure that all the farming inputs are delivered to our farmers by end of August or latest September. This year we want to produce a super bumper harvest,” said Simusa.

The flag off was held at the Nitrogen Chemicals of Zambia (NCZ) plant in Kafue town, a significant parastatal was recently recapitalized following years of its neglect.

NCZ has been contracted to produce 106,000 metric tonnes of compound D fertilizer which will be distributed to all farmers in the coming three months.

So far, NCZ has produced 10,300 metric tonnes of compound D.

The fertilizer will be delivered under the Farmer Input Support Program (FISP) which was chaotic last farming season.

To achieve the 4 million metric tonnes maize harvest, government has this year increased beneficiaries under the FISP program from 900,000 to 1 million small scale farmers.

According to Mr Simusa, this will help in increasing productivity which will in turn help in securing food security at the national level.

And Zambia Cooperative Federation (ZCF) Director General James Chirwa says the 4 million metric tonnes is achievable  if all the strategies are followed well.

Mr Chirwa says government must ensure it delivers inputs on time and extension services adequately offered to farmers.

“The minister talked about 4 million metric tonnes. But I can tell you that even 6 million is achievable if we put in place measures to empower our farmers in this marketing season,” said Chirwa.

He said the country must move to a level were farming inputs are permanently in the districts through out the year, as opposed to distributing them just before the rain season.

Thursday 1 May 2014

EU Gives Africa US$126m For Fisheries

 African Ministers of Agriculture posing for a photo after the official opening of the Joint Ministerial Conference on Agriculture, Fisheries, Rural Development and Aquaculture at the African Union headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia - Picture by Paul Shalala

By Paul Shalala in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

The European Union has given Africa US$126 million to protect the fisheries industry on the continent.

The money will among other things try to boost the dwindling fish stocks which are being depleted by indiscriminate fishing.

In countries like Zambia, indiscriminate fishing methods include the use of insecticide treated mosquito nets to catch fish in the country's rivers and lakes.

European Union Director for sustainable Development Roberto Ridolfi says the money will also give an opportunity for Africa to build its marine infrastructure to protect fish.

"We want to promote good governance and the protection of the seas through this money," said Ridolfi during a press briefing at the Africa Union headquarters in Addis Ababa this morning on the sidelines of the Joint Conference of Ministers of Agriculture, Rural development, Fisheries and Aquaculture.

He further said the money is also meant to help African countries to fight illegal and indiscriminate fishing.

"Resources on the sea need protection and they must be accounted for," he said.

Asked by a journalist why the money has been given to the African Union and not individual African states, Mr Ridolfi said the the continental body was better placed to administer it.

"Coastal borders are very difficult to determine, so we have given the money to the AU so that this program is done at the continental level," he said.

Mr Ridolfi later urged the African union to ensure it uses the money for the intended purpose.

The European Union chief is attending the on-going two day Joint Conference of Ministers of Agriculture, Rural development, Fisheries and Aquaculture which opened in Addis Ababa this morning.

Agriculture Liberates Thousands From Poverty, Claims Zambian Government Official

  By Paul Shalala in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Agriculture Deputy Minister Greyford Monde (below) says thousands of women and youths have been liberated from poverty through government's deliberate policy of encouraging people to venture into agriculture.
Mr Monde says through the Farmer Input Support Programme -FISP and the Citizen's Economic Empowerment Commission -CEEC Funds, government has deliberately helped women and youths to be empowered and thereby helping them move out of poverty.

He adds that women and youths are an integral part of government's development agenda and the thousands who have been liberated from poverty have been economically empowered to be self reliant.

The Itezhi-Tezhi Member of Parliament said this when he appeared on a panel discussion at the on-going Joint Conference of Ministers of Agriculture which is taking place at the African Union Headquarters.

Mr Monde says the Zambian government has also come up with a deliberate policy that encourages college graduates to venture into agriculture at a tender age.

He says entering agriculture when one has retired from employment is not productive as one's energy would have already been lost.

The two day Joint Conference of Ministers of Agriculture, Rural Development, Fisheries and Aquaculture which opened this morning, has attracted ministers from all African countries.

Mr MONDE is representing the Zambia government together with Local Government Deputy Minister Nicholas Mwale.