OVER-DEPENDENCE on rain-fed production among the small-scale farmers has limited the potential for agricultural growth, says agriculture minister Given Lubinda.
In his message to the showgoers at the Copperbelt Mining Agriculture and Commercial Show, Lunbinda said the government was developing and promoting irrigation schemes throughout the country such as the Musakashi Irrigation Scheme with the support of the World Bank to address the challenges that come with overdependence on rain-fed agriculture production.
“Progress to actualise the irrigation scheme is already being recorded. Construction of roads has been completed to the Musakashi Irrigation Scheme. When this project is fully developed, it will bring nearly 2,000 hectares of land under irrigation,” Lubinda said.
He further said one of the measures taken by the government to enhance agricultural development was the provision of farmland.
Lubinda said that the government was developing and making over 1,000 hectares of land available to farmers at Luswishi Farm block in Lufwanyama, which would soon be opened to the public for smallholder development.
“In respect to crop production, it is gratifying that production of our staple food, maize, has continued to increase in most parts of the country including the Copperbelt Province. The Copperbelt contributed seven per cent to Zambia’s 3.4 million metric tonnes in 2013 and 2014 season. However, government seriously desires to see marked increase in the production of other crops and commodities,” Lubinda said.
He said the Ministry of Agriculture was heightening the speed of implementing crop diversification and agriculture diversification programmes for the sector to make meaningful contribution to food security and the growth of the industrial sector and the export drive.
Lubinda said that a well-developed diversified production of various crops and livestock would spur greater agro processing ventures, which would churn out high value products for the local and export markets.
“We want to revive the agro processing industry on the Copperbelt and the government stands ready to support the private sector engaging in agro processing,” Lubinda said.
He said the Copperbelt Agriculture Mining and Commercial Show availed an opportunity to reflect on the way to maximise development of the agriculture sector to sustain a strong economy not only on the Copperbelt but the country at large.