By Hon Davies Mwila
As a sequel to the last article, we continue to discuss the exploits of the PF in the last 7 (seven) years 2011-2018. Since PF formed Government in 2011 under the late President Mr. Michael Sata (MHSRIP)–and currently under His Excellency President Edgar Chagwa Lungu – the national development agenda of the Patriotic Front (PF) has always been guided by three (03) strategic documents, namely: The Patriotic Front Manifesto(s);The National Development Plans (NDPs)The Vision 2030.
7NDP is underpinned by five strategic pillars namely: Economic Diversification and Job Creation; Poverty and Vulnerability Reduction; Enhancing Human Development; Environment for a Diversified and Inclusive Economy; Reducing Developmental Inequalities.
The following is snippet of the numerous ways the PF is on course in achieving the desired outcome under the first Pillar:
A DIVERSIFIED AND EXPORT-ORIENTED AGRICULTURE SECTOR LEVERAGED ON IMPROVING PRODUCTION AND PRODUCTIVITY FROM FARM TO AGRO-PROCESSING AND MANUFACTURING
Just a few days ago, Zambia entered a higher dimension in the advancement of irrigation agriculture, when His Excellency President Edgar Chagwa commissioned the 61 million cubic metres water storage capacity Mwomboshi Dam and reservoir in Chisamba district, Central Province.
The Mwomboshi Dam project is an indelible impression of the Patriotic Front government’s monumental progress in infrastructure development aimed at fostering national development through agriculture and agro-processing.
Its construction of the dam is in fulfilment of the 7NDP and Patriotic Front manifesto on increasing management and utilisation of water resources for agricultural development.
Management and utilisation of water resources for agricultural development In line with the PF Manifesto and 7NDP will be achieved by constructing at least one large scale dam per province such as Mwomboshi to irrigate massive areas of land, establish irrigation schemes and facilitate private investment in dams and irrigation infrastructure among other actions.
This is essential to our achieving the desired outcome of a Diversified and Export-Oriented Agriculture Sector leveraged on Improving Production and Productivity from Farm to Agro-Processing and Manufacturing.
The Patriotic Front administration of President Lungu accordingly endeavours to replicate bulk water irrigation infrastructure projects like Mwomboshi across the country.
The Aquaculture Development programme:
Aquaculture also known as Aqua-farming, refers to the breeding, rearing and harvesting of all water organisms including aquatic plants.
However, aquaculture in Zambia is mainly restricted to fish farming owing to its high demand on the Zambian market (www.agriculture.gov.zm). The PF Government is currently, developing aquaculture through several projects.
For example instance -on 22nd October, 2017, President Edgar Lungu launched the USD 50million Aquaculture Project.
Another notable development is the 5-year US Dollar 50.89 million African Development Bank (AfDB) funded project running from 2017 to 2022, to which the Zambian Governments contribution of funding is 10.8%.
The project is expected to benefit about 1, 200 fish farmers and entrepreneurs comprising 50% women and youth in the identified high-potential aquaculture areas. There will also be approximately fifty thousand (50,000) indirect beneficiaries consisting of entrepreneurs in the aquaculture value chain such as fish processes, fish traders, fish transporters and employees.
The project is expected to foster an enabling environment for the supply of 98 million fingerings which are key necessities in fish farming. The project is crucial to helping our nation diversify its economy, reduce youth unemployment and poverty.
There are many other PF achievements in Aqua Culture sub-sector. The following is but a glimpse into the voluminous catalogue these exploits:
Apart from the US Dollar 20 million Aquaculture Investment Plan (employing over 600 people) which the PF Government has set up in Siavonga District the PF Government is also promoting cage fish farming on lakes Mweru, Kariba, Tanganyika, and Bangweulu as well as along the Kafue river at Kasaka and the water bodies of Western province. This is being implemented through the Zambia Aquaculture Enterprise Development Project (ZAED).
Zambia Aquaculture Enterprise Development Project (ZAED).
Arising from the effective implementation of the ZAED Project, the PF Government has increased fish production from 22, 713 metric tonnes in 2015 to 27,658 metric tonnes in 2016; representing a 22 percent increase.
This significant increase in fish production in only 2 years is evidence of PF Government policies working in the sector.
Once the Zambia Aquaculture Enterprise Development Project (ZAEDP) implementation period is completed in 2021, Government expects the annual fish production to increase to over 40,000 metric tonnes from the current 36,000 metric tonnes in 2018.
The ZAEDP project is stimulating a viable aquaculture sub-sector in Zambia which will in turn promote economic diversification, food security and sustainable employment creation, all of which are top priorities of the Government as enshrined in the 7NDP and Vision 2030.
However, Zambia still has a deficit of 87, 000 metric tonnes due to increased human population as well as demand for fish as a source of cheap protein.
In order to bridge this gap and to enable Zambians to improve their welfare through fish farming; President Edgar Lungu is committed to scaling up aquaculture development through strategic investments and partnerships, to stimulate an enabling environment for expansion in the sub-sector.
Research And Development Promotion Programme (Crops, Livestock And Fisheries)
Apart from Aquaculture, the PF Government attaches great importance to research and development in all sub-sectors of Agriculture. Central to this is Zambia Agriculture Research Institute (ZARI) is the largest agricultural research entity in Zambia.
It has 10 research stations with Mount Makulu Central Research Station being the institute’s headquarters.
The institute’s overall objectives are to develop and adapt crop, soil and plant protection technologies and to provide a high quality, appropriate and cost-effective service to farmers. (www.agriculture.gov.zm). The PF Government has boosted support to ZARI to enable it meet its objectives.
In order to promote Research and Development further, the PF Government has scaled up vaccine production at the Central Veterinary Research Institute with a view to improving and protecting crops, livestock and fisheries countrywide.
Enhancing Agriculture Value Chains
Agriculture value chains are a crucial component of Economic Diversification.
President Lungu’s Government is devoted to diversifying the economy and reducing over-dependence on the extractive industry.
PF is modernizing Agriculture and prioritize value addition through agro-industries in order to improve productivity and lay the foundation for an industrialized economy.
To this end, President Lungu’s Administration has continued to gain significant ground in enhancing agriculture value chains through strategic and significant investments in production, agro-processing and marketing including export market and distribution mechanisms in line with the 7NDP.
The PF Government continues to score many feats through the implementation of a variety of programmes such as the Agro- And Forestry-Based Processing and Manufacturing Promotion Programme.
The following is a selection from the long list of PF Government’s achievements in this regard:
i. Shiwang’andu district of Muchinga Province- In 2015, President Edgar Lungu launched a multi-million Kwacha Forest Plantation for ZAFFICO
ii. Kasama, Northern Province; a 1,947-hectare ZAFFICO plantation has also been established. It is expected to create 200 direct jobs in Kasama and many more throughout the country.
iii. More land for ZAFFICO to develop into plantations in Mporokoso and Luwingu districts in Northern Province has also been secured. The aim is to preserve forests as well as create employment in the area and countrywide.
iv. In April 2018 His Excellency, President Edgar Lungu – launched the “Zambia Plant a Million Trees initiative” at Kapasa Makasa University in Muchinga Province.
With His Excellency President Edgar Chagwa Lungu leading the way the Patriotic Front Government has made significant strides towards the fulfillment of Vision 2030, and we will not rest on our laurels.
We remain unflinching and relentless in our quest to bequeath to Zambians a strong, dynamic and prosperous industrial Middle-income Nation By 2030 using the PF Manifesto and 7NDP as a stairway to attaining a diversified and export-oriented agriculture sector leveraged on improving production and productivity from farm to agro-processing and manufacturing.
The Author is Patriotic Front Secretary General