The Indaba Agricultural Research Policy Institute (IAPRI) has urged government to invest significant resources to mitigate climate change effects in Zambia.
And the Zambia National Farmers Union (ZNFU) executive director Ella Cheembe has bemoaned the dismal allocation to feeder roads in the 2020 budget as they play a key role in the growth of the agricultural sector.
Meanwhile, Millers Association of Zambia (MAZ) president Andrew Chintala says the country needs to introduce more products or product lines at the value addition points and not rely on maize alone as a sign of food security.
Speaking during the IAPRI 2020 budget analysis in Lusaka, Thursday, IAPRI executive director Chance Kabaghe urged government to invest significant resources to combat the effects of climate change.
He noted that despite the good outlook announced by the Meteorological Department, Zambians needed to realize that climate change was here to stay.
While Finance Minister Dr Bwalya Ng’andu acknowledged the debilitating effects of climate change, he did not explicitly allocate any funds under government’s 2020 expenditure functions in next year’s national budget to tackle the problem.
He did, however, state that to finance interventions being undertaken to mitigate and manage the effects of climate change in various sectors, “government will continue to mobilize resources under various initiatives.”
“The emphasis with reference to climate change in the 2020 budget should have been on agriculture. Climate change is here to stay, not only in Zambia, but the whole world and we need to get prepared. Yes, our colleagues in the Meteorological Department are projecting that we will have good rains. Now, when we talk about climate change, it’s not only drought, it’s about looking how much we are investing in crop varieties, developing livestock breeds that can stand the factors or changes that come with climate change; how much money has gone there as investment. Yes, we talk a lot about climate change, but now, we would like to see action on the ground and the instrument that gives direction in terms of changes on the ground is government,” said Kabaghe.
And Cheembe bemoaned the dismal allocation to feeder roads in the 2020 budget as they played a key role in the growth of the agricultural sector.
“…Then, we also noticed that the allocation to feeder roads is very dismal, which is extremely unfortunate, and we would like to see more efforts go into this because our target, the farmers, will only be able to have inputs at reduced costs or better access to markets if we invest in these feeder roads. So, this is an area that we would love to have seen a lot more investment by government,” she said.
She suggested that government should have put up initiatives in next year’s budget to cushion some of the costs that farmers incurred if they decided use irrigation methods.
“We also have the issue of irrigation; we are in the middle of rains, which have emerged. If you go back to about 2015, you will see that we have been experiencing short droughts and the message is very clear that, you know, it cannot be business as usual with regards to irrigation. Decisions are going to be made now and so what we are seeing, unfortunately, is that there is still concentration of these projects, which have been going on for years, the big dam projects. For us, we would have loved to see initiatives in the budget to remove some of the costs that farmers face if they need to irrigate. Government can look at incentivizing farmers by removing some of the additional costs so they can import equipment and then you can have a lot of small-scale emerging farmers invest a lot in irrigation,” said Cheembe.
Meanwhile, Chintala noted that Zambia needed to introduce more products or product lines at the value addition point and not rely on maize alone for food security.
“It worries and baffles me when I get a call coming for food security and we narrow it to maize. When you hear a question, ‘are we food secure?’, we answer in relation to maize. Maize alone cannot be food security, and for us, we are ready to actually diversify in terms introduce more products or product lines at the value addition point; do more of cassava; do more of millet so this is what we would like to see that all crops are being promoted up to production point and for us, as producers as value adders, we are geared to see more product lines in terms of both promoting food security and value addition to products that are grown in the country,” said Chintala.