MINISTER of Agriculture Dora Siliya says Zambia can easily become southern Africa’s bread basket if opportunities are fully exploited.
Ms Siliya said Government is committed to partnering with various actors who are making efforts to improve agriculture.
In a speech read for her by Southern Province permanent secretary Sibanze Simuchoba, Ms Siliya said there is need to increase agricultural production and productivity by promoting the use of modern farming practices.
She was speaking in Livingstone recently during a maize conference held under the theme ‘Improving Maize Value Chains for Transformational Impact’.
The conference drew participants from Nigeria, Mali, Ghana, Republic of Congo, Cameroon and the host, Zambia.
It was aimed at sharing key issues on maize value chain development, technology generation and dissemination.
Ms Siliya said increasing investment in agricultural research and development as a means of sensitising farmers on best practices would help Zambia become the region’s bread basket.
“There is need for increasing agricultural financing which can be done by providing broad-based credit and finance to smallholder farmers through warehouse receipt systems, savings banks and co-operatives,” she said.
Ms Siliya called for the improvement of value addition along the entire value chain through agro-processing.
“Primary agricultural products should be transformed into high-value products,” she said
Ms Siliya said it is important to transform agriculture to meet the aspirations of the people.
And speaking at the same function, the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) director general Nteranya Sanginga said most countries are still characterised by high levels of poverty.
In a speech read for him by IITA regional director for Southern Africa David Chikoye, Dr Sanginga said the agriculture sector is faced by several challenges, which include low investments in the sector.