Thursday, July 10, 2008

Bisect agriculture ministry, advises farmers' union

Bisect agriculture ministry, advises farmers' union
By Chiwoyu Sinyangwe
Thursday July 10, 2008 [04:00]

THE ZNFU has proposed that the Ministry of Agriculture and Co-operatives be bisected to improve efficiency and delivery with one department dealing with livestock and fisheries, the other food crops. And the Zambia National Farmers Union (ZNFU) has entered into partnership with the International Finance Corporation (IFC) and the Zambia National Commercial Bank (ZNCB) to provide friendly agriculture loans to identifiable emerging farmers.

In an interview, Zambia National Farmers Union (ZNFU) first vice-president, Jervis Zimba accused the Ministry of Agriculture and Co-operatives (MACO) of operating in what he called ‘reverse gear.’

"Even at our recent meeting with His Excellence the President, we proposed to him that maybe MACO should be split into two. At the moment, the ministry is not performing to the expectation of everyone…maybe it is too big," Zimba said.

"We are of the opinion that we should have a ministry to deal specifically with livestock and fisheries, on the other hand, the other ministry should deal with crops and general agriculture."

He also alleged that most of the senior officials at MACO were ‘over educated.’
"The President has shown commitment to improving agriculture in the country but we don't see corresponding commitment from MACO. If any thing, we feel MACO is even working against the progress the country is making…they are in reverse gear.

Livestock diseases are almost everywhere, yet they have one of the most educated staff. Almost all departments are headed by doctors but still they are failing to come up with solutions to agriculture," said Zimba.

And ZNFU liaison officer, Coillard Hamusimbi said the ZNFU/IFC and ZNCB partnership would help to grow emergent farmers to commercial status.

"The minimum one farmer can borrow is US$10,000 (about K33.3 million) and the maximum is US$150, 000 (K500.7 million). The pilot project starts next month and we are targeting to start with at least 10 to 15 very good farmers per province," said Hamusimbi.

Hamusimbi said ZNFU would start with Southern and Central provinces and depending on the success of the pilot project, the union would increase the number of farmers and provinces to benefit.

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