Saturday, June 22, 2024

The Agriculture Sector” A Review of President Hakainde Hichilema’s 1 Year in Office

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By Sean Tembo – PeP President

1. In the past few weeks, we have been reviewing the President’s performance in the one year that he has been in office. In part 1, we looked at the economy, in part 2 we looked at the mining sector, in part 3 we looked at the rule of law, and in this part 4, we are looking at the agricultural sector. In total, we intend to look at 10 aspects of Mr Hichilema’s policy direction so far and state our views thereof.

2. The agriculture sector is a very important sector for several reasons. Firstly, it is the sector which ensures that we have food on the table. We all know that food is life. Without food, we would all start dropping dead one by one. Secondly, the agriculture sector has unlimited potential for self-employment, entrepreneurship and employment creation. Thirdly, the agriculture sector presents the best opportunity for industrialization through upward integration in terms of agro-processing, as well as downward integration in terms of manufacturing of various inputs. Fourthly, the agriculture sector presents the best opportunity for diversification of our export base away from the traditional mineral exports, both in terms of raw agricultural produce as well as processed agricultural products. Indeed, the agriculture sector has unlimited potential to be used to transform our economy, bring about economic growth, end unemployment and reduce the cost of living for our people.

4. But the agriculture sector’s huge economic potential is perhaps matched by its complexity to manage properly. Since the first Republic, we as a nation have been singing the same song about how much potential the agriculture sector has, and how it needed to be harnessed and exploited. Yet, one administration after another, we have failed to do so. Almost 58 years after independence, copper remains our major export, and agricultural produce still account for less than one percent of our export earnings. About 58 years after independence, we still have millions of jobless able-bodied youths, despite our abundant arable land and good climatic conditions. Almost 58 years after independence, we are still struggling to feed our small population of 18 million Zambians, three square meals a day. About 58 years after independence, we still import basic agricultural produce such as onions, grapes, dried mangoes, apples etcetera and yet more than 80 percent of our indigenous fruits such as mangoes actually go to waste every season.

5. It is for the above reasons that when President Hakainde Hichilema and his New Dawn administration ascended to power in August 2021, we expected him to have a plan to revamp the agricultural sector. A plan to diversify the economy from mining to agriculture. A plan to use the agricultural sector to create employment for millions of our able-bodied youths who are wallowing in the streets. A plan to ensure food security for our most vulnerable citizens. A plan to stop the wastage of various agricultural produce due to a lack of processing and storage capacity. A plan to use agriculture as a springboard to industrialize our country. A plan to make agriculture a viable business from which millions of Zambians can earn a decent living.

6. However, there is no plan. The same problems that have bedevilled the agricultural sector since time immemorial, are continuing to do so. The export market remains intermittent, with borders opened for the export of a particular agricultural product in the morning and closing the following morning, thereby rendering planning by farmers impossible. Farming inputs continue to be delivered as late as February of the following year when the farming season starts in October of the previous year.

The government continues to fail to purchase the promised crops such as maize from farmers on a timely basis, with most crops ending up being washed away and damaged by early rains. Even where Government collects the crops, it takes an eternity for farmers to be paid the meagre dues, when they need that money to invest in the next farming season, thereby creating perpetual poverty for the majority of our citizens. Despite an abundance of arable land and a stable climate, millions of our able-bodied citizens still remain unemployed because they do not see agriculture as a viable business. The government has not made agriculture to be a viable business. All the brilliant ideas of how to reform the agricultural sector appear to have been abandoned at Heroes Stadium during the inauguration. Forget the reforms, even basic housekeeping chores such as delivering inputs on time, and paying farmers on time, appear to be insurmountable tasks to President Hakainde Hichilema and his administration so far. Cry my beloved fellow countrymen and women. May God have mercy on us. Amen !!!

7 COMMENTS

  1. “…..However, there is no plan. The same problems that have bedevilled the agricultural sector since time immemorial, are continuing to do so. The export market remains…….”

    How can you fix anything with a rotten , bankrupt economy………?

    A fine tuned functioning economy is the basis for everything…………

    Crying for a perfect agriculture system with a rotten economy is………..

    like crying out for manufacturing when you have no electricity………

    When the economy is fixed, all other faucets of the economy will be working like a well oiled German marchine………

  2. Let us accept his article, in any nation there will be positive and negative minds. This is normal and not an offence in any way. I only differ with him when he calls himself PEP President, because there is no party behind him, otherwise his article is accepted

  3. Sean, when are you forming a party and moving away from daily commentaries? Any way you are entitled, I am just asking. Do people in Kaputa read your articles? Do you think they will vote for you? Any way you are not the only one.

  4. ”Farming inputs continue to be delivered as late as February…”

    ”The government continues to fail to purchase…”

    Sean… There has only been one growing season since August, 2021 yet you write as if you are talking about 10 years. This is the type of dishonest and shallow analysis typical of a hack politician and mediocre analyst. Who draws a trendline from exactly one data point? Sean Tembo of course.

    Imagine a line graph with only one point on it? Any line is at a minimum two points, and for statistical analysis, at least 5 points are recommended.

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