Thursday, September 05, 2013

ZCF calls for increased investment in small-scale irrigation
By Chimwemwe Kasanje
Tue 13 Aug. 2013, 14:00 CAT

THE government should intensify providing affordable irrigation equipment for small and medium-scale farmers, says Zambia Co-operatives Federation.

ZCF director general James Chirwa said irrigation farming among small and medium-scale farmers would increase productivity as cropping would be done more than once a year.

Chirwa said farmers across the country were faced with a challenge of low yield and food insecurity whenever there was poor rainfall in a particular cropping season.

"For us in the cooperative movement, we feel irrigation farming among our farmers is a solution to high crop production and this directly increases incomes at household level and reduces poverty," Chirwa said in an interview.

Chirwa said farmers needed more of perennial cropping activities that could be enhanced by irrigation farming methods than the Farmer Input Support Programme.

He said the government needed to channel funds from FISP to give soft loans to small and medium-scale farmers to acquire affordable irrigation equipments like water pumps.

Chirwa cited irregularities relating to the FISP administration amounting to K14.16 million in 2011 revealed in the Auditor General's report as funds that could have been prudently utilised in the area of irrigation farming.

The Auditor General's report exposed corruption in the issuance of FISP packs to unqualified recipients across the country, costing Zambia resources that could benefit the agriculture sector.

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