Minister of Agriculture Micheal Katambo says government will engage stakeholders on e-voucher challenges to ensure that the next farming season is a success.
In an interview with News Diggers, Katambo said he received with both hands the request from ZNFU to maintain high levels of consultation with stakeholders.
“We receive that with both hands. As the PF government through the leadership of President Edgar Lungu, its an open door policy. We cannot manage the agricultural sector without even involving the smallest holder farmer. We have to involve all farmers and all stakeholders in the farming fraternity. Everyone who is engaged in the agricultural sector has to be engaged. People are talking about the e-voucher challenges, issues to do with the e-voucher, we need to call a stakeholder meeting and engage one another. Zambia National Farmers Union are key stakeholders in the agricultural sector and many other farmer groups. We need to reach out to all these people,” Katambo said.
“Mine (job) is to reach out to all and hear the challenges and recommendation so that this next farming season we just do what is right. If it’s finances, we have to start now as government to prepare for the next farming season so that atleast we don’t have issues to deal with finances, we don’t have issues of agro-dealers, we don’t have issues with the banks that are non existence in other areas where people have benefited from the e-voucher. So we have to engage everyone, ours is a listening government, its an open door policy.”
He said he would do his best to make the e-voucher system work.
“I will trot around all provinces to see the challenges and what government can reach out and do for our citizens. Us in the ruling party under the leadership of President Lungu are managing and we are able to sustain ourselves. Unless if they are telling me to say ‘Zambia has no food, we are importing food from other countries’. Can you point a finger at me to say this government has failed? We are exporting so where is the failure? The implementation of the e-voucher, the e-voucher was just newly introduced. It was newly introduced so all issues to deal with the e-voucher will have have to work around with it and see how best we can put it right,” he said.
Katambo said his predecessor, Dora Siliya, did the best she could.
“In the region, Zambia has produced more. I have found a firm and laid down program by my predecessor honourable Dora Siliya. She’s done the best. She’s done all she could. Citizens have to always focus on the positive and not on the negative side when other things are moving in the positive direction. Citizens need food on the table. People work in their own sweat to produce and have what they have in their households. So if we have failed, is Zambia not sustaining itself where the food production is concerned? That’s a question to ask. If somebody says ‘it (agriculture) has failed’, don’t we have food, stocks in the reserves? Are we not exporting food? So as a country, as a sector, we need to appreciate what the farmers are producing,” said Katambo.