Opposition UPND President Hakainde Hichilema has accused the ruling Patriotic Front (PF) Government of of giving very little attention to farmers.
In a statement released to the media today, Mr Hichilema said that despite the large number of Zambians engaged in agriculture sector and the importance of the work of farmers in not just providing food security, but also helping to keep food prices down, the agricultural sector has received little attention from the PF Government.
Below is the full statement
Supporting our farmers
As we undertake our party mobilisation activities across the country we are keeping our eyes firmly on the most important issues. Our people continue to push for greater support of farmers and agricultural activities in the country. Despite the large number of Zambians engaged in this sector and the importance of the work of farmers in not just providing food security, but also helping to keep food prices down, it receives little attention from the PF Government.
While we cannot blame the El Nino or such events on the PF, we can and should hold the Government to account for what they are, or are not, doing to help farmers through the drought and uncertain period. Suffice to mention that close to 40% of fresh water in Southern Africa is in Zambia and this can be utilized for irrigation. There is no reason why we always have to wait for the rain season to farm.
We continue to call for a bigger vision for the farming sector and in particular direct support for agribusiness and value-addition industries. These are essential for creating sustainable jobs and helping keep food prices down.
Government must help create an environment in which such ventures can start up, grow and flourish. This means making it easier and quicker to set up a business, supporting relevant knowledge transfer and skills training initiatives and marketing the opportunities to companies looking for suppliers, both within Zambia and beyond.
In the UPND we remain excited about the potential for agribusiness that can play a major part in uplifting the prosperity of our nation, as well as for each farmer and their dependents. The window of opportunity is there but we must grasp hold of it quickly and decisively.