Forum for Democracy and Democracy (FDD) Leader Edith Nawakwi has charged that Zambians will starve to death next year because of the poor agricultural policies implemented by the PF Government.
Speaking during the launch of the Startup grants program for small scale farmers, an initiative of her party in Lusaka today, Ms Nawakwi said that for the first time in the history of the nation, Zambia will be on the United Nations (UN) list of nations in need of relief food.
Ms Nawakwi explained that the K500, 000 program she has launched will benefit over 4, 000 farmers in various parts of the country to help them sustain their farming efforts.
Below is the full speech during the launch
OFFICIAL LAUNCH OF THE FDD AGRICULTURE START-UP GRANTS PROGRAM FOR SMALL SCALE FARMERS BY PRESIDENT EDITH Z. NAWAKWI AT THE FDD PARTY SECRETARIAT
Good morning fellow countrymen and women.
It is evident that while the whole country has become bankrupt, the worst hit, are the farmers who have been kept poor by successive governments.
In order to make progress, we have to identify the needs of a household.
The Patriotic Front Government has put a tombstone on all farmers, be it small scale or large scale.
With the prevailing load shedding, sky rocketing cost of production and inconsistent policy direction by this Government, it will take radical strategies and programs to resurrect farmers from the abyss of poverty which the PF Government has buried them.
What is prevailing is a serious sign that next year there will be massive hunger. This whole country will be in starvation. There will be no grain to grind. Hospitals will run out of drugs. The price of food and other essential goods and services will go beyond the reach of most of us.
All this could have been avoided had our humble President listened to our advice. We advised President Edgar Lungu to change course. We told him that he was cruising downhill at an alarming speed. But he didn’t listen. Now that he has grounded our economy to its knees, he has resorted to threats and insults.
Members of the press and distinguished Party Officials present; I welcome you all to this very important occasion, an occasion that will forever change the lives of thousands of households across our great country.
In our spirited effort to achieve a poverty-free Zambia through the creation of wealth at household level, I am proud today to officially launch the FDD Agriculture Start-Up Grants Program for Small Scale Farmers.
This program is aimed at supporting small scale farmers with various high value agro products for a period of three years to enable them generate higher incomes and move them from peasantry to self-reliance. It is equally designed to provide technical support that will enable farmers to increase productivity and diversify into agro-processing to add value to their produce.
As a party, we have embarked on a vigorous program of empowering farmers by providing them with Soya beans, Sun Flower and vegetable seed.
The initial number of farmers who will directly benefit from this program is 4000. These will include farmers from Chadiza, Chipata, Chisamba and Samfya Districts.
As you may be aware, small scale farmers contribute more than 80% of all the maize that we produce as a country. The bulk of these farmers, who are breaking their backs to feed our nation are women.
The sad reality, however, is that the majority of these farmers despite their hard work and sacrifice live in dehumanising poverty and deprivation. This is as a direct result of bad Agricultural policies that successive governments have been pursuing.
Agriculture which should be a cornerstone of our economic growth and national development has grossly been mismanaged by our colleagues in government. The budget allocation is in adequate. There is insufficient technical support and a general lack of planning to ensure successful diversification, mechanisation, processing and profitable marketing of our agro-products.
It is clear that Maize alone shall never lift our people out of poverty. The whole Maize business from FISP to FRA is a scandal that has plunged our farmers into untold misery.
Time has come for us to empower our farmers with high value crops and other agro-products that can generate enough income for their families and create employment for our youths.
Diversification and agro-processing is the only way to make agriculture a profitable industry capable of creating millions of jobs, eradicate poverty and increase our nation’s foreign exchange earnings.
We passionately appeal to our cooperating partners and other stakeholders to support us financially, materially and technically in order for us to expand this program and increase the number of beneficiaries.
May God bless our country.