Incentivise large-scale farmers, WB tells government

Incentivise large-scale farmers, WB tells government

World Bank says Zambia should stimulate large scale farmers to increase production, as a solution to reduce food security risks.

The bank said incentivising farmers has multiple benefits such as boosting export, contributing to wealth and jobs creation.

“Zambia needs to, alongside supporting poorer farmers, ensure that large-scale commercial farmers using irrigation have incentives to produce for domestic needs and export,” said Ina Ruthenberg, World Bank country manager.

She said enhancing agricultural productivity is ‘essential, but it requires budgeting for more than just subsidised agricultural inputs’.

Ruthenberg told the parliament that the country’s farmer input support programme (FISP) and the Food Reserve Agency (FRA) suffer from high-levels of inefficiency and wastage.

“There are large arrears associated with the FRA and the FISP as the levels of expenditure grew beyond what the government could afford in 2015 and 2016.

The current target of FISP and FRA does not sufficiently support the poor,” said Ruthernberg.

Ruthenberg said government should focus on clearing arrears attributed to the FISP and FRA to help farmers prepare and invest for the next season.

She however applauded that 2017-18 farming season implements for FISP are being provided via an e-voucher system to curb wastage.

“The roll-out needs to be closely monitored so that the inevitable challenges can be overcome, especially in remote areas.  Also government should review the FRA mandate and its role in the market,” Ruthenberg said.

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