Government says it expects the agriculture sector to grow by 5.2 percent in 2010 compared to the 1.9 percent in 2009 following the bumper harvest in maize this year.
Finance and National Planning Minster, Stumbeko Musokotwane, said the maize production rose from 1.5 million metric tones to 1.9 million metric tonnes the country the biggest the country has recorded in the last ten years.
Dr. Musokotwane said this in Parliament today during the presentation of the 2010 national budget adding that government views the improved performance of the agriculture and the livestock as the most powerful tool to reduce poverty and stem the rural-urban divide.
Government has increased the allocation to agriculture and livestock sector from K1, 096 trillion in 2009 to K1, 139 trillion in the 2010 national budget.
The minister told parliament that the creation of the newly created Livestock and Fisheries ministry will ensure that the sector receives focused attention.
He added that its potential will be supported by targeted intervention aimed at controlling animal disease and improve veterinary services.
Dr. Musokotwane said through this intervention the sector will become the next priority sector to contribute to the national GDP after cooper.
He said government will continue with the create of disease free zones (D.F.Z)throughout the country to facilitate livestock exports.
He has announced that government has allocated K430 billion to the revised Farmers Input Support Programme (FISP), K100 billion to the Food Reserve Agency (FRA) and another K10 billion towards Food Security Packs.
He added that government will complete the remaining works on the Nansanga farming block in Serenje and has since allocated about K 40 billion to step up development of the block.
Dr. Musokotwane has also disclosed that government wills also commence similar infrastructure development in Luena Farms block in Kawambwa district where they will be growing sugar.
He further said that government will this year continue rehabilitating grain silos across the country to improve grain storage and protection.