The 2018 budget will especially benefit Zambian crop, livestock and fish farmers, said Zambian Finance Minister Felix Mutati.
Mutati delivered his K71.6 billion budget on Friday, highlighting the improvement of agriculture market information systems and the development of functional markets. The focus will be on sustaining high production and enhancing value chains which must raise farmer incomes and reduce poverty.
“Diversification remains key. Therefore, government will implement measures to raise farmer productivity, as well as realising diversification within the agriculture sector,” he said.
One such initiative is to bring on board three of the nine planned farm block models in 2018. The farms will be located in Copperbelt, Northern and Muchinga Provinces and must support smallholder farmers in agro-processing, technology transfer and access to ready markets.
Other initiatives include the facilitation of a US$100 million public-private-sector investment in a tractor and agricultural equipment assembly plant in the Lusaka South Multi-Facility Economic Zone. The plant will be operational by the end of next year.
Government has also obtained financing of US$40 million from EXIM Bank of India for agricultural mechanisation.
On livestock development, spending will focus on putting into operation 18 artificial insemination centres and four regional laboratories across the country. Money will also be allocated to finish building 200 dip tanks.
Government will also help with access to local and foreign markets for livestock farmers. One such initiative is the export of one million goats per annum to the Middle East.
To attain self-sufficiency in fish production, government will promote cage fish farming in the country’s main waterbodies, including lakes Mweru,
Kariba, Tanganyika and Bangweulu.
It will also continue with the US$50 million Zambia Aquaculture Enterprise Development Project in 2018. It is aimed at, among others, building institutional capacity for fish, fingerlings and feed production.
To improve access to finance, the mooted Agricultural and Industrial Credit Guarantee Scheme will next year provide affordable credit to small and medium-sized farmers. Government will also engage financial institutions to increase credit to farmers, using movable collateral like livestock.
Mutati said government will implement strategies to mitigate and adapt to the adverse effects of climate change. Included in this category is the US$32.8 million Integrated Forestry Landscape project in Eastern Province, which will be implemented with the support of several partners.
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