State seeks empowerment for farmers

GOVERNMENT is looking for effective ways that will help empower smallholder farmers and producers, as most of them are still living in poverty. Minister of Agriculture Given Lubinda said it is unfortunate that despite smallholder farmers being the major producers of food in the country, most of them are still living in poverty, which shouldn’t be the case.

Mr Lubinda said this when he received a formal submission of the Food Reserve Agency price setting study from the Consumer Unity and Trust Society.

He said Government and other agro stakeholders see smallholder-led agricultural growth as the most viable solution to food problems as long as interventions are based on production technology and market development.

He said the agriculture sector is characterised by a large number of poor smallholders contributing most of the agricultural output, with low yields, limited commercialisation and few signs of rapid productivity and, population-land ratios that are not fully exploited.

Zambia’s agriculture sector, which is largely driven by rural farmers, needs a structural transformation if it is to grow the economy and reduce poverty on a broad national scale, especially among smallholder farmers who are the main producers. As Government, we are trying to figure out what it is that we can do to ensure that the main producers of food are elevated from poverty,” Mr Lubinda said.

He said this will need to change for Zambia’s agriculture sector in particular and African agriculture in general to yield optimum results.

Mr Lubinda said the productivity of smallholder agriculture and its contribution to the economy, food security and poverty reduction depends on the services provided by well-functioning agro-producers and smallholder farmers who need to be empowered and elevated to well-improved living standards.