IN this audio, President Edgar Lungu says from now on, he should be referred to as “President General” because there are too many [association] presidents in the country, and there is need for a change in the Constitution to differentiate his distinguished title from the rest.

And President Lungu says he has forgotten about what happened in Dundumwezi Constituency during the 2016 general elections, and he is now friends with Chief Chikanta.

Meanwhile, President Lungu says farmers should be wary of plans and attempts by criminals to cheat farmers by selling fake inputs in form of seed and fertiliser.

Speaking as he introduced ZNFU president Jervis Zimba during the launch of the 2020/2021 planting exercise, in Petauke District, Thursday, the Head of State said there were too many presidents in the country, and the next Bill 10 must include an amendment to the Constitutional so that the name “President General” can be constitutionalised.

Take a listen:

“The Zambia National farmers Union president Mr Jervis Zimba.., I warned him that there are too many presidents in this country. So from now on, I will be referred to as ‘President General’ so that the rest of you can be presidents. I know it is an unconstitutional for now but hopefully next time we have another bill 10 we will stick it in. I am sure the future bill 10 will pass through (sic),” President Lungu said.

As the President continued recognising the distinguished invited guests who attended the event, he acknowledged Chief Chikanta and said he had forgotten about what happened to him in 2016 in Dundumwezi Constituency.

“The PF national chairman Samuel Mukupa, the Honourable Minister of Agriculture Honourable (Michael) Katambo, the Eastern Province Minister Honourable Makebi Zulu, Presidential Affairs Minister Honourable Freedom Sikazwe other Cabinet ministers present, Honourable members of parliament present, the Patriotic Front leadership at the provincial level, permanent secretaries and other senior government officials present. Your Excellency the British High Commissioner to Zambia Mr Nicholas Woolley, Your Royal Highnesses Chief Mwanjabantu and Chief Chinkata… For those of you who don’t know Chief Chinkata very well, he is from Southern Province of the Tonga speaking people and a member of the Zambia National Farmers Union Kalomo District Dundumwezi Constituency. I know him too well because I was very interested in where he was coming from. We are allies actually after 2016 we became allies. I worked very closely with the chief. What happened in 2016 is all gone. We are now one Zambia one nation working together. So we will wait for 2021 and again we will get over it, we will go on. That is democracy,” he said.

Meanwhile, President Lungu said despite the effects of the coronavirus and the adverse weather patterns, he was encouraged by the resilience the farmers had shown as players in the agriculture sector.

“The year 2020 is extraordinary as we are grappling with the Covid-19 Pandemic which has continued to ravage the entire world and all sectors of our economy have been affected differently. However, despite the effects of the coronavirus and the adverse weather patterns, I am encouraged by the resilience you farmers have shown as players in the agriculture sector. You have remained resolute, and you continue to produce important agricultural commodities and food stuffs that feed our nation. I am aware that there have been many hurdles that this sector has encountered over the last one year. You should all be proud because you have weathered the storm and have ensured that the national food security is protected. Let me now use this opportunity to thank all our hardworking farmers and agribusinesses that have tremendously contributed to the national food basket. For a good number of years, Zambia has not imported maize as we have been self reliant in the production of our country’s main staple crop. This is no mean achievement and we give thanks to our farmers. This is testament that we can feed ourselves, and our neighbors if we continue on the same trajectory,” he said.

He urged extension officers, under the Ministry of Agriculture, to get organised and ensure adequate support was given to as many farmers as possible during this period.

“I am aware that there are some challenges affecting agricultural production and productivity, especially for small scale farmers. There are also some weaknesses in capacity building and knowledge transfer to our farmers. These challenges and weaknesses have been further exposed by the worsening weather conditions, due to the effects of climate change. Going forward, I appeal to all partners in the sector to pool resources together and effectively coordinate efforts to transfer appropriate skills and technologies to farmers. Once we ensure proper coordination in the delivery of extension services, our goal of improving agricultural production and productivity, whilst uplifting the livelihoods of our farmers in Zambia, will be achieved. as we are still on the subject of extension service delivery, let me urge all extension officers, under the Ministry of Agriculture, to get organised and ensure adequate support is given to as many farmers as possible during this period. The provision of extension services is your full time career hence it is expected that you will serve diligently. As extension officers, you should always be happy to observe measurable improvements in the productivity of farmers as a result of your efforts in transferring knowledge to farmers,” he said.

“My government is aware of the challenges that our farmers in the country continue to grapple with some of which I have already mentioned. Even in the face of these challenges, my government will continue to work very closely with the Zambia National Farmers Union and other stakeholders to transform the agriculture sector to benefit as many citizens as possible. The PF government is indeed walking the talk and we are taking practical measures aimed at addressing challenges in the agriculture sector. Our commitment to this call remains steadfast. My government showed an unwavering commitment to addressing issues of productivity by ensuring timely distribution of inputs under the farmer input support program (FISP) for the 2020/21 farming season. Even amid the Covid-19 Pandemic, we worked hard not to compromise production for the coming season. In addition, the Food Reserve Agency has been making timely payment of cash to farmers supplying maize to the agency. This is indeed unprecedented!”

President Lungu urged farmers to be wary of criminals selling fake inputs.

“To beneficiaries of inputs under the farmer input support programme, I wish to advise you to use them wisely and avoid the temptation to sell. In the same vein, farmers should be wary of plans and attempts by criminals to cheat farmers by selling fake inputs such as seed and fertiliser. All security wings must be alert and bring to book erring individuals. Let us all remain focused and ensure that the country records a good harvest and a fruitful agricultural season in general. I urge farmers to continue adopting good farming practices such as conservation agriculture, which I hope one day will be a permanent practice for all farmers in Zambia. Here in Eastern Province, which is a major producer of crops such as cotton, tobacco and soya beans, I appeal to the province to boost the production of these crops. My government is currently reviewing tobacco legislation to ensure growth of the tobacco industry. I would like to urge the ministry of agriculture to ensure that the new tobacco legislation protects small scale tobacco farmers, who are normally taken advantage of by other players in the industry. I envisage a tobacco industry where all stakeholders treat each other as strategic partners.” said President Lungu.