EMPOWERMENT OF SMALL SCALE FARMERS KEY TO BOOSTING AGRIC YIELDS

The Centre for Trade Policy and Development (CTPD) says empowering small scale farmers with irrigation mechanisms, is key to boosting agriculture production yields in the country.

CTPD Researcher Emmanuel Muma states as a result of this, it is unfortunate that most small scale farmers in the country lack adequate irrigation systems to support an all year-round production.

Mr Muma explained that the center has observed that due to the effects of climate change, Zambia has for a long time continued to suffer from hazards such as drought, floods, and extreme temperatures.

In a statement to the media yesterday that the effect of these have mainly resulted in reduced production which ultimately impacts negatively on the national food security and the ability for the country to fight poverty.

The CTPD Researcher underscored that most agricultural land was rain-fed and subject to erratic rainfall and recurrent droughts, leading to low agricultural sector performance.

“This dependence on rain-fed agriculture has often left the country tremendously vulnerable to the vagaries of weather.

“ For instance, in 2017 and 2018 rainy seasons, severe drought in parts of Western and Southern provinces of Zambia threatened household food security levels due to severe negative impacts of dry conditions on agriculture farms,” he said in the statement.

He was however quick to mention that Irrigation agriculture development requires huge financial investments for it to yield positive results, which calls for increased budgetary allocation.

The CTPD researcher noted that allocation that goes towards programmes like Farmers Input Support Program (FISP) tends to consume more of the agriculture sector budget than any other programmes leaving little resources to channel towards other important programmes such as irrigation agriculture development.

“As CTPD, we believe that Irrigation development in Zambia’s agriculture sector is critically important to ensure sustained production and productivity among small scale farmers necessary for the nation to attain sustainable national food security and poverty reduction.

“ It is very important for the Government of the day and the aspiring political parties for the 2021 general elections to ensure that irrigation agriculture for small scale farmers is prioritized in their development agendas,” he charged.

Mr Muma urged all aspiring political parties contesting in this year’s general elections to include in their campaign messages the significance of irrigation agriculture in promoting agriculture transformation in Zambia in the wake of climate change.

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