The World Bank says Zambia should increase public spending on agriculture to wean the country from copper dependency.
“Low agriculture productivity remains the main impediment to poverty reduction. This leaves enormous scope to increase agricultural productivity by improving public spending in the sector,” said country manager Ina-Marlene Ruthenberg.
She spoke in Lusaka at the launch of the Word Bank’s half-yearly economic briefing titled “Reaping richer returns from public expenditure in agriculture”.
Ruthenberg said there is still room to improve public expenditure in agriculture, despite the increase over the last 15 years. Zambia’s agricultural budget was doubled in 2017 and now stands at K6.08 billion.
“Improving spending on agriculture will help to promote a non-copper economy and improve rural livelihoods.
“While public expenditure in agriculture was increased, there is vast scope to improve both efficiency and effectiveness,” she said.
Speaking at the same event, Finance Minister Felix Mutati said Zambia is making specific decisions to ensure agriculture becomes the key driver for exports and economic diversification.
He also asked for more diversification in the agriculture sector.
“Our farmers must start growing other crops that make money other than just maize,” Mutate said.
On the Farmer Input Support Programme (FISP), Mutati said government is taking steps to improve its administration.