GOVERNMENT will support both small-scale and commercial farmers in Zambia to increase momentum for a consistent agriculture-based economy, President Lungu has said.
Mr Lungu reiterated the need to increase momentum for agricultural activities throughout the country to reduce dependency on copper as the economic mainstay.
He said his administration will also ensure that small-scale farmers receive farming inputs and are paid on time.
The President said this yesterday when he paid a courtesy call on chiefs Chitambo and Muchinka of the Lala people in Chitambo.
“I would like to thank you for your warm welcome and also for voting for us in January and for maintaining peace. I am on a fact-finding mission here [Central Province] to check on how the commercial farmers are doing, and if the small-scale farmers have been paid on time because that is the way to go. We also want to check on development projects.
“We want to keep the momentum of agriculture high and move from copper dependency because of inconsistencies in copper pricing and this is historical,” he said.
And President Lungu said Zambians must continue to respect the traditional values of various chiefdoms where they are resident to enhance the `One Zambia One Nation’ principle.
Mr Lungu said it is important for ethnic groupings to co-exist in diversity and avoid provoking each other.
He also urged traditional leaders to embrace people from other tribes and guide them to live in harmony with others.
“We are happy and grateful that you are looking after people from different backgrounds well, and continue to do so. They must also respect you and the traditions and values in your land, and do not hesitate to engage us as Government on various issues just like we will approach you. We have to work together closely,” he said.
Chief Chitambo said he is happy with President Lungu’s style of leadership and will continue giving his administration the necessary support.
He also urged Mr Lungu to ensure that the Patriotic Front adopts a capable aspirant in Chitambo constituency for the 2016 elections.
“We are not in politics but we are messengers, we will support anyone you will give us as MP who can work with us and work with PF as the government of the day. You (Mr Lungu) have a lot of work to do so remain focused to leave behind a legacy you will be remembered for,” Chief Chitambo said.
And addressing students at Chitambo School of Nursing, President Lungu reiterated the need for men and women to work in partnership in fostering development.
“We should have as many men as women ruling this country together,” President Lungu said. “There is no need for women alone and for men alone, we are partners.”
Mr Lungu said gender equality should be felt at all levels, and there should be no segregation on the basis of gender.
“We need to strike a balance when it comes to gender. There is nothing, that this is a man’s world [or] that this is a women’s world,” he said.
President Lungu also called for gender balancing in enrolments in institutions of learning.
Mr Lungu urged management at Chitambo Nursing School to “strike a balance” by enrolling students from within the district and those from outside.
Mr Lungu said it does not augur well when local people are deprived of places in tertiary institutions.
He said ensuring that people from other parts of Zambia access training at the nursing school is one way of promoting unity in the country.
Mr Lungu also told the students that he is aware of the challenges the nursing school is experiencing but they are not insurmountable.
“With the help of the teaching staff, management and Government, we will get over them because we need quality, and quality service can only come with well-trained students in any field,” he said.
President Lungu later addressed a rally at Mukando Basic School in Serenje where he urged residents to register as voters.
Mr Lungu said he is happy to interact with the people of Serenje and encouraged them to take advantage of the voter registration exercise.
He said he will continue with the projects which late President Sata initiated in Central Province and the rest of the country.
He said he wants more people in rural areas to benefit from various development projects including the rural electrification projects being implemented by the Rural Electrification Authority (REA).
President Lungu has since asked REA to “find ways and means” to ensure that the people of Serenje rural benefit from the power project.
“I want you to benefit from electricity and I want REA to find ways and means to ensure that you have electricity which bypasses you overhead,” he said.
Mr Lungu said his administration also wants to ensure that farmers are supplied with inputs in good time for the farming season.
And President Lungu has advised the electorate to be patient with elected leaders and allow them to work within their period of mandate.
“Allow your leaders to work until the time for campaigns,” he said.
He also reiterated the need for PF members to accept new members into the ruling party as this is key to uniting and strengthening the party.
President Lungu said “the party is bigger than individuals”.
And after touring new housing units in Serenje, President Lungu directed Central Province Minister Davies Chisopa to find land for construction of social amenities near the site where Walltech Enterprise Limited is constructing 66 houses for the police.
He said the development of the new residential area should be accompanied by social facilities like play parks, churches and markets.
President Lungu also toured the site where Datong Construction Company is constructing a police station and police camp in Serenje at a cost of about K34 million.
Mr Lungu is happy with the quality of work at the two construction sites.
He also toured the new Serenje district hospital which is expected to be opened soon after the mortuary is completed.
Earlier, President Lungu had a meeting with Chieftainess Serenje, chiefs Mailo, Chibale, Kabamba and Chisomo.