Sunday, March 16, 2008
By KASUBA MULENGA
JAPAN has given Zambia a grant of K11.6 billion (320 million yen) for the importation of 4,000 metric tonnes of fertiliser and 60 tractors and trailers to help the country increase food production in the 2008/09 farming season. Minister of Finance and National Planning, Ng’andu Magande, said this in Lusaka yesterday during a grant assistance agreement signing ceremony at the ministry.
“The tractors will be for sale to eligible small scale-farmers who are registered in accordance with Government’s regulations,” Mr Magande said.
The minister said the fertiliser (basal and top-dressing) would be used to boost the Fertiliser Support Programme (FSP) especially among small-scale farmers in Central Province.
Mr Magande said the Japanese grant was aimed at enabling small-scale farmers acquire inputs and machinery necessary to enhancing food production in the country.
He said the inability of small-scale farmers, particularly those in peri-urban areas to acquire agricultural equipment was a major constraint to enhancing food production.
“I therefore hope that the few farmers who will be able to acquire this equipment will use it productively to increase both yields and quantities,” Mr Magande said.
He said Zambians cherished their relationship with their Japanese counterparts.
As a result of this, Zambia had continued to receive support from Japan in such areas as construction of basic schools in Lusaka, various projects in the health sector including the improvement and rehabilitation of Lusaka roads.
He was happy that in its desire to deepen its economic cooperation with Zambia, Japan had chosen Zambia to be its first country in which to implement economic development and growth initiatives.
The initiatives that will be implemented under the Triangle of Hope as a private sector development intervention, was timely and appropriate.
Mr Magande said it was recognised that Zambia needed innovative ways of developing the economy for her to forge ahead with high broad based economic growth and wealth creation.
“It is not enough to speak of sustainable development. What we need is the transformation of our economy to a higher level of operation with a new mindset and work ethics,” he said.
The minister was convinced that this shift of people’s thinking coupled with Japanese support, would propel Zambia to a middle income country faster, just like it led to tremendous results in south Asian countries.
And Japanese charge d affaires to Zambia, Kotaro Suzuki, said the money his country had given Zambia would help in boosting food production, especially maize among the underprivileged farmers.
He said the money would assist Government with its continued efforts to develop the country.
Mr Suzuki said agriculture had continued to play a pivotal role in the Zambian economy and his country believed that increased agricultural productivity was critical for effective implementation of the Fifth National Development Plan.
The grant would enable the Zambian Government to acquire and distribute Urea and D Compound fertilisers to small-scale farmers through the FSP.
Mr Suzuki said the grant would also enable Government to procure and distribute agricultural machinery and equipment consisting tractors, ploughs, harrows, cultivators, reversible ploughs and trailers with power tillers.
He hoped that small-scale farmers would use the equipment to maximise their productivity and enhance food security and income generation at both household and national levels.
Mr Suzuki hoped that the assistance would go a long way in improving people’s quality of life and contributing to the country’s economic growth.
He said Japan continued being heavily burdened by serious fiscal strains that required his Government to earn public support by improving efficiency, effectiveness and transparency of its assistance programmes.
“In this view, I would like to request the Zambian Government to utilise this grant in a transparent, accountable, efficient and effective manner to enable us continue supporting Zambia on its course to economic and social development,” he said.
Mr Suzuki said Japan was ready to work with the Zambian Government in monitoring implementation efforts to ensure that the grant fully benefited targeted people.