December 05, 2005, THE POST
Stakeholders at a recent workshop on NEPAD agriculture programmes organized by PELUM Association Zambia, and Consumer Unity and Trust Society-Africa Resource Centre (CUTS-ARC) agreed that the country currently had scanty benefits from the continental initiative.
They identified projects deemed relevant under NEPAD, which they recommended Zambia to pursue.
These include capacity building for small-scale farmers on the use of land and water systems, construction and improvement of rural road network, fish farming and fish conservation, rice growing, sugar cane growing and processing, cassava project in all rainfall regions, constructing and renovation of existing dams and the development of agriculture market information systems.
The stakeholders noted the importance of the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) and the need to streamline it into national policy in order to promote agriculture in Zambia.
The vision for agriculture is embedded under CAADP, which is sanctioned on four pillars. These are : extending the area under sustainable land management And reliable water control system, improving rural infrastructure and market access, including inputs and finance, increasing food supply and reducing hunger and agriculture research and technology.
The stakeholders observed that the dependence of most Zambian farmers on seasonal rainfall has contributed to food insecurity in the nation, in instances of late rains or droughts.
They recommended the encouragement of water harvesting technologies and the promote irrigation to encourage productiveness, throughout the year.
However, they noted that a major constraint to the use of modern irrigation techniques was electricity, of which is concentrated along the line of rail to the disadvantage of small scale farmers.
They recommended that electricity should also be taken to rural areas.
The stakeholders also identified the problems pertaining to market access, including inputs and finance.
They said there was inadequate transportation facilities to enable agriculture products access the domestic markets, which was worsened by the absence of market information.
They said this situation resulted in farmers selling produce at a price below the production costs.
They recommended that in order for farmers to realize profits from agriculture produce it is important that they are provided with a well net worked transportation system, which will provide efficiency and reduce the cost of production.