As Government embarks on implementation of the new agricultural policy, it is important that focus is targeted on enhancing research and extension services to cushion the current challenges of climate change and address agricultural trade in the country, an agricultural stakeholder says.
National Union for Small-Scale Farmers of Zambia (NUSFAZ) director general Frank Kayula said, it is sad to note that the Ministry of Agriculture does not have a current policy to drive the economic agenda for this country despite the Presidential pronouncements that agriculture should be the mainstay of the economy.
Dr Kayula said in a statement availed to the media on Sunday, that the country has had missed opportunities to take center stage in the region as providers of maize to international countries due to the expired policy which does not provide for robust and strategic agricultural trade actions.
He said the new policy should articulate how the nation will implement climate smart agricultural activities and contribute to food security through the provision of leadership by Ministry of Agriculture to farmers to grow the national economy.
“We cannot operate in a policy vacuum and expect to move an inch towards developing the nation. We are cognisant of this fact that, we have a new Minister in the Ministry of Agriculture, but there are civil servants in the ministry who have been there for some time who should ensure that the country has the second National Agriculture Policy in place.
“Why is it that we are working one year past the expiry of the previous [2004-2015] national agricultural policy without a policy? We cannot continue working under the old policy because the environment and the agricultural landscape have changed considerably,” he said.
Dr Kayula said there is need for the national agricultural Policy which should also clearly identify the role of the private sector players and promotion of farming as a business, to guide development agenda of the country.
“We need the national agricultural policy now, to help the players in the sector to plan for their anticipated engagement in agriculture. We know that a draft copy has been sitting in the Ministry of Agriculture for some time now,” he said.