Tuesday, April 02, 2013

Allocate sufficient resources to agriculture - Mucheleka
By Kabanda Chulu in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Mon 01 Apr. 2013, 14:00 CAT

GOVERNMENT should move away from rhetoric and demonstrate political will by allocating sufficient resources to the agricultural sector, says Patrick Mucheleka.

Mucheleka, who is attending the 9th CAADP partnership platform meeting as member of the Pan African Parliament's committee on rural economy, agriculture, environment and natural resources, said it was sad to see Zambia lagging behind countries which she taught several things.

"Some countries have made progress in advancing the CAADP agenda and some have even gone beyond the set targets of allocating minimum of 10 per cent budgetary funds and six per cent growth rate but Zambia is still off-track despite signing the compact agreement and national agro-investment plans that can attract huge resources into the sector have not been formulated," Mucheleka said in an interview on Wednesday.
"Government should stop being rhetorical but become practical and demonstrate political will through allocation of sufficient resources so that agriculture can be developed to improve income levels and reduce poverty since it is a sector that absorbs skilled and unskilled labour."

He challenged government to learn how other countries were developing their agricultural sectors and give Zambians a proper policy direction on where they intended to take the industry.

"Zambians want to know the direction agriculture will take through clear policies with set targets, performance indicators and strategies to be used so that people will understand how to benefit from programmes like CAADP and others. What is being done to develop rural areas to attract private sector?" Mucheleka asked.

"…Is it desirable to have 50 per cent of the agriculture budget going to a single crop (maize), which is also not stored properly and neglecting key functions like research and development and extension services? Even the little resources don't reach intended targets because reports of the Auditor General show that agriculture funds are the most abused resources."

He proposed that CAADP agenda should also involve the ministries of finance, commerce and industry and works and supply if it was to be meaningful to Zambians.

"If we have to create jobs for the youths, we need to make agriculture a viable and attractive industry and we need to link producers to markets; and this calls for the involvement of all stakeholders, especially the ministries I have mentioned because roads need to be worked on and also there is need to establish strong linkages between agriculture and manufacturing to enhance value addition to the produce," said Mucheleka.

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