Friday, February 16, 2007

Govt. to launch irrigation fund

Govt. to launch irrigation fund

GOVERNMENT will early this year launch an irrigation development fund worth K37 billion after all conditions of accessing the money are finalised. Agriculture Minister, Ben Kapita said the fund would be launched early this year and that it would be implemented under the National Irrigation Plan (NIP).

Mr Kapita called on commercial and small scale farmers to utilise the irrigation fund in this year's national budget as it will contribute significantly to boosting the growth of agriculture sector. '' We are going to have an irrigation development fund as soon as modalities are finalised as to how farmers are going to access the money,'' he said in an interview in Lusaka. He said the money would cater for all categories in the agriculture sector, whether small, medium or large scale farmers.

He however advised farmers to pay back the loans once the money has been disbursed to them. '' Farmers must realise that the programme would be controlled progressively as it is the seed money, when they borrow they must pay back,'' he said . Mr Kapita said in the past some commercial farmers had formed loan institutions to lend money to fellow farmers but these institutions have become bankrupt due to non payment by farmers.

He appealed to farmers to pay back in full so that the money could increase and contribute immensely to the growth of the agriculture sector. The minister said this year, Government would focus on increased investment in agriculture particularly irrigation development, livestock disease control, farm Mechanisation and extension services. Last week Finance Minister, Ngan'du Magande proposed to spend K1,062.9 billion or 8.8 per cent of this year's national budget on agriculture and fishing sub function, out of which K37 billion is for irrigation development.

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