Sunday, September 01, 2013

Govt to keep 900,000 farmers on FISP
By Chiwoyu Sinyangwe
Sun 04 Aug. 2013, 14:01 CAT

PRESIDENT Michael Sata says the government will maintain the 900,000 farmers currently receiving subsidised maize-growing inputs under the Farmer Input Support Programme. And ZCCM Investment Holdings has warned that the country needs to start facing the reality of the falling copper price.

In a speech read for him by Vice-President Dr Guy Scott, President Sata said the government would prioritise investment in infrastructure as it sought to expand production and increase productivity.

"These agriculture development programmes will place emphasis on expanding production and increasing productivity of the crop, livestock and fisheries sub sectors and these programmes include continuation of provision of subsidy to the 900,000 beneficiary farmers under the Farmer Input Support Programme," President Sata said.

"However, the contribution by each farmer has been increased with effect from the 2013/2014 agricultural season."

President Sata also said the Food Reserve Agency would be focusing on most vulnerable farmers as it performed its role of being the buyer of last resort.

"My government will continue to purchase maize from small-scale farmers mainly for strategic reserves and FRA will continue to be a buyer of last resort, particularly in out-lying areas that are not serviced by private sector," he said.

President Sata said the theme for the 87th Zambia Agriculture and Commercial Show which was 'Business in a changing environment' was appropriate as it was in line with Zambia's national agricultural policy which was responsive to social, economic and political orientation of the country.

"It is important that you continue to attract and retain exhibitors and ensure increased participation by many companies and individuals both locally and internationally in future shows," said President Sata.

"I urge you to aggressively embark on infrastructure rehabilitation and development. Though the Zambia Agricultural and Commercial Show should be commended in this area, there is still room for improvement. I have no doubt that the Zambian business will greatly contribute to raising the average incomes of Zambians and further increase employment."

And ZCCM-IH executive chairman Wila Mung'omba said the mining sector still remained vulnerable to external pressures which depress the price.

Mung'omba said the effects of the 2008 global economic crises which depressed copper prices to below US $3,000 per tonne were still being felt in the sector.

"To this day, the effects of the global financial crisis on economies and businesses are still being felt," Mung'omba said during the luncheon sponsored by ZCCM-IH, the custodian of the government's shares in the privatised mines.

"We have again copper prices dropping. Change will keep coming."

Mung'omba said there was need for the country to continue diversifying the economy from mono-dependence on mining which accounts for 80 per cent of export receipts.

"ZCCM-IH recognises that mining should not be the mainstay of the Zambian economy but we don't believe that it will holistically transform the Zambian economy and fight poverty on its own," said Mung'omba.

"It has been acknowledged that successful agriculture in a country has the ability to transform industry and society."

Some of the companies who won awards this year's show included National Pensions Scheme Authority (NAPSA) for Best Overall Exhibitors award, Evaca (Best International
Exhibitors), while the Zambia National Service walked way with the Best Infrastructure Development Exhibit.

Zambia Sugar plc was awarded for Best Environmental Awareness while Zambia Revenue Authority got the Best Interpreter of the theme.

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