Minister of Agriculture Dora Siliya says Government will start the distribution of farming inputs by 15th October, 2017 in order for farmers to prepare adequately for the 2017/2018 farming season.
Speaking on the sidelines of the Specialized Technical Committee STC on Agriculture, Rural Development, Water and Environment in Addis this morning, Ms Silya said government had put in place mechanisms to ensure that the challenges faced last year in distribution of funds were addressed.
Ms.Siliya said 200 billion kwacha had been set aside this year for the 2017/2018 farming season.
She urged Zambians to take Agriculture as a business and not only grow food for their household consumption.
Ms. Siliya said government had this year devised a mechanism to separate vulnerable farmers from those who are in farming strictly for business.
She said her ministry has recommended vulnerable farmers to the ministry of community development for assistance
The Minister noted that the E Voucher programme was a project that government had put in place to ensure timely and effective distribution of resources to farmers.
And Ms Siliya said government was eager to grow the agriculture sector by supporting irrigation and mechanization.
She said government had since constructed three water harvesting sites in order to capture rain water, adding that through irrigation, crop production could be enhanced.
The Minister also said government was committed to ensuring that there was improved mechanism in farming as opposed to the use of the hole.
She said government was taking the AU decision on relegating the hole to the museum seriously and is committed to ensuring that rural areas are empowered with tillers.
Ms. Siliya said the governments will in 2018 use the $40 million loan from EXIM bank of India purely for mechanization in Agriculture and irrigation farming.
And on the STC meeting, Ms Siliya said Africa has realized the need to support Agriculture because it had the potential to create jobs and wealth.
She said in Zambia, Agriculture was the main stay of the economy and measures had been put in place to grow the sector.
The Minister said declarations such as the Malabo declaration that demands that each country’s budget targets 10 percent towards the Agriculture sector must be supported.
She said Zambia has already made tremendous progress as the Agriculture sectors budget keeps growing every year.