Sunday, February 17, 2013

Sichinga must bring sanity to FISP - ZNFU

Sichinga must bring sanity to FISP - ZNFU
By Henry Sinyangwe in Lusaka and Edwin Mbulo in Livingstone
Fri 15 Feb. 2013, 15:20 CAT

ZNFU says it expects the new agriculture minister Bob Sichinga to deal with the FISP, which it has descried as disastrous in its current state.

And Sichinga says the bigger picture is to create jobs as the bulk of Zambians are in the informal sector, which affects disposable income.

In a statement released yesterday, Zambia National Farmers Union (ZNFU) president Jervis Zimba said that the union had received with utmost anxiety and high expectation the transfer of Sichinga from Ministry of Commerce, Trade and Industry to agriculture.

He expressed disappointment at the late delivery of farming inputs, which he said would adversely affect this year's harvest.

"The management and handling of the Farmer Input Support Programme (FISP), which can be described as disastrous in the current agricultural season, to date, distribution of inputs is still going on and a number of our farmers haven't yet received their inputs. This situation is unacceptable and should never repeat itself. The minister will need to dedicate his energy and time and bring sanity in the manner the FISP is being managed and implemented," Zimba stated.

He cautioned that the continued importation of cheap subsidised agricultural commodities such as dairy, pork and poultry products, wheat and wheat products must be guarded against at all times.

"The propensity by some officials in the ministry to carelessly issue import permits of subsidised agricultural products from other countries has potential not only to cripple the agriculture sector but also wipe out all local jobs in the Zambian agricultural industry," Zimba stated.

He stated that there was a strong push from certain players in the industry to import powdered milk to be reconstituted as fresh milk under the pretext of testing the Zambian market while promising to create jobs.

Zimba stated that despite the union's opposition, pork sausages have continued to be imported onto the Zambian markets, causing low uptake of pigs by processors from small-scale farmers.

He said the farming community was dismayed by the ministry's decision to allow exports of Zambian bran to countries in the region at a critical time when the Zambian livestock farmers needed the commodity most.
He said the union hoped that a lesson was learnt and that Sichinga will carefully weigh the benefits and put the Zambian farmers first, which had so far not been the case.

"The ZNFU wishes to earnestly implore our new Minister to ensure that practical steps are taken now and way in advance in preparing for this year's marketing season. As a Union we do not want to see a scenario where our small scale farmers continue spending nights in the cold waiting to be paid by the Food Reserve Agency (FRA) or stranded because there is nowhere to sell their produce. We believe time is now to end the perennial problems of agricultural marketing in Zambia," stated Zimba.

And speaking on a special radio programme on Falls FM, Sichinga said development was a process and not an event, and the PF must be given a chance to carry out this process.

"The bulk of our people are not in the formal sector; they are in the informal sector and this sector is difficult to access as there are no details to find out who is doing what, but we can say roughly that 80 per cent of our people are in the informal sector and only 20 per cent are in the formal sector.

It impacts the national economy as disposable income is affected, and that is why we are seeking to increase the opportunities," said Sichinga, who is in the tourist capital to attend a business forum and also drum up support for the PF candidate in the February 28 by-election, Lawrence Evans.
He said the government's challenge was to ensure that institutions that could impart skills to the youths were in place.

"We as PF are performing; give us a chance by giving us an MP who can be in a position to understand the policies, and I'm sure that this time around they will vote for the PF candidate who will be able to benefit being an insider and would implement programmes to the benefit of the people," he said.
Sichinga added that the PF was delivering where the MMD, failed and needed the peoples support to effectively deliver.

He said members of parliament were elected take development to the people and to get their complaints heard by government. Sichinga wondered why the opposition was denying its members that obligation.
"Where would the opposition MP get funds to take development to the people, because the budget is now geared to the PF manifesto? I am making an appeal to the Livingstone residents to attend the business forum and also to elect the PF candidate," said Sichinga.



http://www.postzambia.com/post-read_article.php?articleId=30276

Workers complete demarcation of Luena farm bloc
By Godfrey Chikumbi in Kawambwa
Fri 15 Feb. 2013, 15:20 CAT

THE Luena Sugar farm bloc in Kawambwa district has been completed.
District commissioner Ivo Mpasa disclosed in an interview yesterday that the completion of the demarcation works of the core venture in chief Chama's area followed the government's release of over KR1 million last year towards the project.

Mpasa, who is district chairperson for the adhoc committee on Luena Sugar, said a combined team of technical workers from various departments managed to beat the deadline of three weeks.

He said the ad hoc committee had advised the Department of Agriculture to abandon the formation of smaller farm plots in the farm bloc in order to expedite the formation of the core venture.

Mpasa explained that the core venture, which was a giant plot of the over 100,000-hectare farm bloc would accommodate the main sugar plant and factories once fully developed by investors.

"Investors are eyeing the core venture; that is why we have prepared it before the entire farm bloc can be demarcated. But now that the core venture has been done, our officers will now move to smaller plots," he said.
Mpasa said the completion of the core venture had earmarked the beginning of the realisation of the long-awaited Luena Sugar plantation, which had been a pipe dream for ages.

He said it was the hope of his committee to see the Luena Sugar project begin to be fully operational before 2015 so that jobs could be created.

"Our government's desire is to completely avoid using the Luena Sugar as a campaign slogan in 2016; that is why for the first time you are seeing political will and support by the PF government," Mpasa said.

And Mpasa said the workers were currently demarcating four farm plots of 2,500 hectares each that were meant for outgrower commercial farmers.

He said the four plots were the second-largest after the core venture in the farm bloc and would be taken up by four commercial farmers once completed.
Mpasa explained that the commercial farm plots were located in Mweo and Kuyumba areas of Senior Chief Mushota's chiefdom.

He has since appealed to the Survey Department to begin erecting beacons in the cut lines which were used to demarcate the farm plots because delaying to such works would allow grass to overgrow.

Meanwhile, Mpasa said the ad hoc committee would be meeting to review the works that were done in the farm bloc and come up with an action plan for 2013.
"We need to cost all the programmes to be done in the Luena Farm Bloc this year so that we submit to relevant ministries for funding," he said.

Mpasa said the adhoc committee would not wait for technical officers at the Ministry of Agriculture headquarters to plan for the works to be done in the farm bloc because his committee was capable of planning and only to submit to the ministry for funding and technical advice.

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