The World Bank has endorsed Zambia’s agricultural progress and urged for more investment to accelerate gains.
Country manager Ina-Marlene Ruthenberg said despite progress, there is still a need for increased investment in the agriculture sector to reduce poverty.
“Agriculture is a significant sector that needs concerted support to not only be used for economic diversification, but for poverty reduction,” Ruthenberg said when her team met the parliamentary committee on budget estimates.
Lead agricultural specialist at the World Bank Willem Janssen said limiting the dominance of the Farmer Input Support Programme (FISP), as well as Food Reserve Agency (FRA) budget support, will give more momentum to progress in the agriculture development programme.
“Government must consider limiting FISP support to about three years to allow farmers to subsequently graduate from the system,” he said.
In his recent budget, Finance Minister Felix Mutati said improving agriculture market information systems and developing functional markets must help raise farmer incomes and reduce poverty.
Government will spend K1.8 billion to support 1 million smallholder farmers under FISP.
In addition, budget support will go towards completion of various projects in livestock and fisheries sub-sectors to raise productivity.
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