The Zambian National Farmers’ Union (ZNFU) has hailed the 2018 national budget as progressive in enhancing agricultural productivity.
“The budget addresses some of the concerns of the farming community through various measures proposed to increase production and diversification,” said Jervis Zimba, ZNFU President.
In his budget, Mutati said there are a number of initiatives, including the development of three farm block models in Muchinga, Copperbelt and Northern provinces, the facilitation of a US$100 million agricultural assembly plant and a US$50 million aquaculture enterprise development.
ZNFU cited spending to strengthen extension services by recruiting 750 officers as significant to turn around low productivity.
It also applauded a surgical review of the Farmer Input Support Programme (FISP) that resulted in the removal of 600 000 so-called ghost farmers and a saving of K1 billion by the treasury.
ZNFU also shares the view that beneficiaries must graduate from the programme. However, it is cautious on the proposed three year tenure on FISP, as proposed by the World Bank.
On the threat of agricultural imports which flooded the local market, ZNFU recommended government to hedge sub-sectors like the edible oil, diary and horticulture industries by deliberately effecting policy changes that will regulate imports and spur local production.