Showing posts with label Agriculture. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Agriculture. Show all posts

Saturday, 30 December 2017

Young Farmers Series: Brian Hapunda Shares His Secrets

Brian Hapunda checking one of the harvested tomatoes
By Paul Shalala

In the first of a number of articles showcasing young, educated and successful Zambian youths who have ventured into farming, i profile Brian Hapunda, a young politician who has made it big in farming.

Brian is a lawyer by profession, a former students union leader at the University of Zambia and is currently a member of the ruling Patriotic Front's Media and Publicity Committee.

He previously served as PF Political Secretary for Southern Province during the late President Michael Sata's three year presidency and PF Media Director in 2015.

In this article, he puts aside politics and talks farming.

Farming as a Hobby

Brian says as he was growing up, he always wanted to venture into farming and he always told himself that one day he will  be a big farmer.

To realise that dream, four years ago, Brian embarked on his dream by utilising some traditional farm land, growing cash crops such as tomatoes and maize alongside goats.

"I always had the passion of growing food firstly to feed myself and later others and am happy through God and consistency coupled with an ever supporting wife who has become my farming partner, we are now living our dream. What seemed to be an impossible journey four to five years ago has now turned into a success farming story that I and my wife have taken seriously as an income venture for the family," he says.

He says through the farming business, he has created jobs, mostly for youths who work at the farm.

Below is a verbatim of Brian's story as posted on his Facebook page:

Brian with his wife Mwela in the field
Challenges in Farming for us

Like every business venture, we faced some challenges in our farming challenges and at some point I thought of giving up. I remember one of my Farming mentors and friend Dr Tamara Kaunda on a tour of our Farm said, "Patience & Consistency is what defines a farmer" as she encouraged me to continue growing our farming Business.

Farming too needs some stable capital injection on top of Land acquisition which in my view is the biggest challenge. We had to begin our activities on Traditional Farm land. We had no big monies but through prioritising & personal sacrifices, we were able to get started with our Tomato Farming.

Tomato Farming is a serious Cash crop venture but it is labour intensive aswel requires modern effective Irrigation System. All these entail saving resources and channeling it towards this goal. This was not easy and we achieved it over a very long period of time!

Time

Farming requires Time and Patience. There is no "Remote Control" Farming. If one takes up serious Farming as an income Venture then you can not afford to be doing Remote Control Farming. You just have to create time for Farm work and fund yourself at the Farm/Fields doing Farm work.

Being a busy person myself as a Community Worker  (Politician) I had to balance up my time with Farming especially in the initial stages of our Farming actives.

Spending time at the Farm working with my Farm Labourers and monitoring works there helped me build a strong working relationship with my Team and also learn practicle Farming skills from them.

My spending time at the Farm also helped reduce Pilferage (stealing) by some untrustworthy Workers.

Brian interacting with one of his farm workers
Through my consistency time spending at the Farm,  I can now firmly we have set up "Systems" there to enhance our Farming activities/Works which is very vital in any business venture.

Stigma and Discouragements

I remember telling some friends of mine my intention  to take up Farming as a fulltime active and what their responses were. I must say out of 10, 2 would encourage me positively to persue Farming as an Income venture whilst majority of them would simply tell me off that, "why would I want to take up Farming as though i was an Old Man?"

Others would tell me that "Brian why would you want to put your Education to waste after having been to School?"

Worst still, I would get this stigma when I walk into a Social meeting with my friends & they would say, "there goes the Farmer" in a teasing way ofcourse!  Most of my friends/People were used to me as a  Communinity Worker (Politician if you like) and not as a Farmer!

The Stigma and Discouragements I got from certain People then almost made me give up my Farming  Dream and question myself if I was doing the right thing but I would tell myself again that I am going to do this not to please People but to discover my other Talent in Life that I can leave on.

I am glad that through Perseverance and Commitment, I have Discovered my other Talent in my Life which is Farming.

Government's Pronouncements to Diversify the Economy to Agriculture Anchored from Mining Anchored Economy

Planting tomato
I am pleased that the Government has come up with a Policy to begin to shift our Copper (Mining) based Economy to Agriculture based Economy as a way of growing the Economy bigger. This Pronouncement & Policy comes with quite alot of Positive favouritism to the Farming Community such as Subsidised Farming Inputs etc which Farmers can take advantage of.

However, through my Farming experience the Government needs to come up with a deliberate support mechanism to support Young People in Zambia wishing to venture into Farming and take up Farming as an Income Generating activity for themselves.

65% of Zambia's adult Population is made up of Young People below the age of 35 years. This means that Young People are Productive base of our Nation & if most Young People are encouraged to venture into Farming, it will make Zambia Food Secure & yet another Food Basket for our Region.

The Government must also ensure that Local Farmers are protected against foreign Farming outputs such as fresh vegetables, Fruits, Tomatoes, Potatoes etc for this kills Local Small Scale Cash Crop Farmers who have to compete with Multi International Farmers!

Young People wishing to go into Farming must be assisted to Acquire affordable Farming Land as land is a serious Capital in Agriculture Business.

It's high time that we also have a "Government Farmers Bank" whose role will be to help Identify Farming Talent, Finance Farmers and help them Grow as is the Case in Botswana, Senegal etc.

Words of Encouragement to fellow Young People

Fellow Young People as you turn into the new year 2018, focus on discovering your purpose on Earth, focus on discovering your Productive Talent on Earth and use it to create a Job and an Income for yourself!

Checking one of his tomato fields
You must aim to create multiple income sources for yourself. You must aim to become Financially Independent in 2018!

You must aim to network with People whom you can learn one or two Positives from!

Lastly, no matter how many times you have fallen down to the Ground in your Life you must not stop moving.  Simply get up clean/dust yourself & keep on moving for Patience & Consistency defines a VICTOR!

I am a Living Testimony of how many Times i have fallen to the Ground or made to fall to the Ground & i stood up to continue walking

Merry Christmas & a Prosperous New Year to you all

Sunday, 15 January 2017

Army Worms Destroy 20,000 Hectares of Maize In Central Province

Chanda Kabwe (in blue) sprays a maize field in Kapiri Mposhi
By Paul Shalala in Kapiri Mposhi

Over 20,000 hectares of maize has so far been destroyed by the fall army worms in Central Province since the first cases of the pests were reported in the region late last year.

Newly appointed Central Province Permanent Secretary Chanda Kabwe says the region has now become one of the hardest hit by the pests alongside the Copperbelt province.

Mr Kabwe says the deployment of Zambia National Service (ZNS) officers across the province has helped contain the fall army worms in most of the districts which are hard hit.

“So far, the situation looks under control. We have distributed over 10 thousand chemicals across Central Province since the fall army worms were first reported. We have another consignment coming this coming week, we are doing everything possible to fight these pests,” said Mr Kabwe when he toured some affected farms in Kapiri Mposhi’s Kambosha area on Friday.

The Central Province Permanent Secretary assured farmers in the province that government is doing everything possible to ensure that they have a good harvest at the end of the current farming season.

And Kapiri Mposhi District Commissioner Peter Mwiinde has revealed that about one thousand four hundred hectares of maize have so far been sprayed by the authorities.

Mr Mwiinde says the District is this weekend expected to receive more bottles of the chemicals to spray the remaining one thousand hectares.

“We received 700 litres of the chemicals to fight the army worms. So far we have sprayed 1,458 hectares but we are still remaining with 1,000 more hectares. Am confident we will spray them too and produce a bumper harvest this year,” said Mr Mwiinde.

Meanwhile, one of the hard hit farmers is Mary Zimba, whose three fields in Kambosha area along the Great North Road were attacked by the fall army worms late last year.

“When my fields were attacked, I had lost hope. I was worried that this year we will be in poverty. But with the free chemicals I received from the agricultural extension officers, my crop has been saved,” said Mrs Zimba.

A check in her three maize fields found her crop was growing well and had reached knee level.

Tomorrow, authorities in Kabwe, the provincial capital, will be deploying inmates to beef up the ZNS team which is fighting the army worms in the fields.

Due to security reasons, the prisoners are only expected to spray fields which are in the outskirts of Kabwe town.

Thursday, 5 January 2017

Zambia May Lose 40% Maize This Year Due To Army Worms


Dr. Zitsanza (left) analysing the fall army worms in the lab
By Paul Shalala in Ndola

The International Red Locust Control Organisation for Central and Southern Africa has warned that Zambia may lose upto 40% of its maize yield this year due to the invasion of army worms.

International Red Locust Control Organisation Chief Scientist Dr. Eliot Zitsanza says according to the organisation's assesment so far, upto 40% of maize will be destroyed if much effort is not put to reduce the spread of the pests.

"Our preliminary assesment shows that the current invasion will impact on national food security in Zambia. Between 30% and 40% of the crop will be affected. We advise farmers to keep spraying their maize because the pests are destructive," said Dr Zitsanza in an interview in Ndola.

He has disclosed that Zambia has been invaded by a new pest called Fall army worm which is different from the African army worms which wrecked havoc across the country in 2013.

Dr Zitsanza says the fall army worm originates from the Americas and it was probably brought to Africa through trade.

"From our laboratory analysis, the current pests are not African army worms but fall army worms. They differ alot. African army worms are darker while the fall worms are lighter. In terms of feeding habits, the fall worms eat the upper part of the maize were it grows while the African army worms usually eat leaves," he said.

Two weeks ago, the Ministry of Agriculture sent samples of the army worms to the International Red Locust Control Organisation's laboratory in Ndola for tests.

The aim of the tests was to find out what kind of creatures they are and what interventions can be made.

And according to data from the organisation, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Nigeria have been hit by the fall army worm invasion.

This has led to concern in Zambia whose staple food is maize.

On Monday, Zambia's Vice President Inonge Wina described the destruction by the army worms as a national crisis.

So far, six of the 10 provinces of Zambia have been attacked by the army worms.

Central and Copperbelt provinces have been worst hit.
Countries where the organisation operates


Over the past week, government has been flying chemicals to all the provinces for further distribution to farmers to fight the fall army worms.

This has been done through the help of the Zambia Air Force.

And yesterday, President Edgar Lungu enlisted the Zambia National Service to the fight against the fall army worms.

This has made the response to the creatures robust with other agencies already engaged in the operation.

The International Red Locust Control Organisation is an inter-governmental institution which gives early warning to member states on the invasion and spread of pests.

The organisation, which is headquartered in Ndola (Zambia), conducts aerial surveillance of these pests and laboratory examination of creatures to offer advise to member states.

With helicopters stationed at the Simon Mwansa Kapwepwe International Airport in Ndola, the International Red Locust Control Organisation conducts periodic checks on invasive pests in the region.

Kenya, Tanzania, Malawi, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Mozambique are members of the organisation.

Monday, 2 January 2017

Army Worms Destroy 3,000 Hectares Of Maize In Lufwanyama

 By Paul Shalala in Lufwanyama
Lufwanyama District Commissioner Miniver Mtesa spraying

Over 3,000 hectares of maize have been destroyed by army worms in Lufwanyama District on the Copperbelt.

This has made Lufwanyama the worst hit district in the province so far.

A check by this blogger in Kakonge area this morning found farmers surveying the damage.

And Lufwanyama District Agricultural Coordinator Aswell Lubungo says the 3,000 hectares affected by army worms are just from the farms surveyed so far.


Mr Lubungo says due to the vastness of the district, not all farmers can be reached to asses the extent of the damage.

Lufwanyama is a mostly rural district and its believed to be the second largest in the country after Mpika.

"Lufwanyama is the most affected district on the Copperbelt. 3,000 hectares have been invaded by army worms, affecting 600 households," said Mr Lubungo.
John Bwalya explaining to farmers how to use the chemicals


He disclosed that farmers were worried with the outbreak.

Meanwhile, Lufwanyama District Commissioner Miniver Mtesa has started distributing chemicals to farmers as the fight against the pests intensifies.

This morning, she gave away chemicals to farmers in Mikuta area.

"We have received over 400 liters of pesticides which we are distributing to farmers. Government wants to ensure that we fight the army worms and reduce chances of a bad harvest," said Ms Mtesa in an interview.

Meanwhile, agricultural experts have embarked on a district-wide sensitization campaign.
Aswell Lubungo sensitizing the farmers in Kakonge village

"This chemical is called sword and it has 500 milliliters. When mixing with a 200 liters drum, you only use 400 milliliters because it is highly concentrated," said John Bwalya, an agricultural assistant who was found in the middle of a sensitization meeting in Kakonge village.

And some farmers spoken to expressed fear that the army worms will affect this year's yield.

"Farmers like me who are not married depend on farming for our livelihood. We send our children to school and feed dependents from money we raise in the fields. Now with these army worms, we don't know how we will survive," said Sharon Mubambe, a 24 year old farmer of Kakonge village.

Thursday, 29 December 2016

Zambia Air Force Joins In Fight Against Army Worms

Army Worms eating grass
By Paul Shalala

Zambia’s President Edgar Lungu has deployed the Airforce to join in the fight against army worms which have so far attacked maize fields in six of country’s 10 provinces.

Army Worms attack in their thousands and they eat and destroy any vegetation on their way.

The creatures have wrecked havoc in maize fields.

Maize is Zambia’s staple crop which millions of citizens eat on a daily basis.  

According to a statement by President Lungu’s press aide Amos Chanda, the head of state has directed the Zambia Air force, the Disaster Management and Mitigation Unit and the Ministry of Agriculture to curb the spread of army worms.

“The Zambia Air Force has since began to airlift chemicals to Ndola on the Copperbelt, Chinsali in Muchinga Province, Kasama in Northern Province and Chipata in Eastern Province. The District Agriculture Coordinators for Lusaka, Luapula and North Western Provinces have already collected the chemicals,” stated Mr Chanda.

He revealed that the President had directed that the chemicals that were purchased under emergency operations should be distributed to all parts of the country.

“The President is concerned that if the outbreak of the worms is not controlled speedily, the crop yield for 2016/2017 may negatively be affected. He has assured farmers that all provinces will receive the chemicals,” he stated.

The army worms were first spotted in Kitwe District on the Copperbelt last month.

Within two weeks, the worms spread to the whole district and by last week they had destroyed over 300,000 hectares of maize.

This forced the district administration in the area to buy and distribute cyclone and nimbecidine to farmers to help them halt the spread of the army worms by spraying it in the fields.

Last week, Agriculture permanent Secretary Julius Shawa confirmed that nine of the 10 districts on the Copperbelt had already been invaded by the army worms.

“Farmers who are suspicious of any creatures in their maize fields must report to the nearest agricultural office. Those who are sure its army worms, please buy cypermethrin at any nearest agro shop and spray,” said Mr Shawa.

Army worms were first reported in several parts of Zambia in 2013.

That time, they destroyed maize fields and left farmers with losses.

Since the directive was made yesterday, the Zambia Air Force has continued flying the chemicals to various provinces.

The allocation for the Copperbelt landed in Ndola yesterday and today, Provincial Minister Bowman Lusambo is physically distributing the chemicals to Lufwanyama, Mpongwe and Kalulushi Districts.

Wednesday, 21 December 2016

300 Hectares Of Maize Destroyed By Army Worms In Kitwe

Army Worms on a maize stock
By Paul Shalala

Over 300 hectares of maize have so far been destroyed by the infamous army worms which have invaded Kitwe in the past three weeks.

Kitwe District Agricultural Coordinator Dr. Raphael Muyaule says the outbreak has left over 150 farmers affected, threatening this year’s harvest.

Dr. Muyaule says the damage caused by the army worms is worrying.

“We are very worried by the damage these army worms are causing. All parts of Kitwe are now affected and from our assessment, most maize fields have suffered more than 40 percent damage,” said Dr. Muyaule.

He said this in an interview today in Minsaka area where he accompanied Kitwe District Commissioner Chanda Kabwe who donated chemicals to farmers affected by the army worms.

And Mr Chanda urged the farmers to ensure they utilise the chemicals well and reduce the impact of the invasion.

“Spray the chemicals when you are sure it will not rain that day because once it rains, the chemicals will be washed away,” said Mr Chanda.

In Minsaka area, several farmers have lost their maize to the army worms.

Some of the affected farmers are worried that the creatures will reduce their harvest next year.

Alick Nguni who has lost his five hectare field of maize to the army worms says he hopes government can help him survive next year.

Other farmers are also crying foul.

Agriculture officers preparing chemicals
“I had a good harvest last year and bought a canter for myself. But now am worried because these army worms have destroyed my crop,” said Namakando Liwanga.

Government has bought cyclone and nimbecidine chemicals which it is distributing to the affected farmers.

So far, farmers in Minsaka and Luongo areas of Kitwe have received their chemicals today.

Officers from the Ministry of Agriculture have since been dispatched to various parts of the city to sensitise farmers on how to mix the chemicals and spray it on the affected maize.

Army worms, whose scientific names are spodoptera exempta, are making their second appearance in Zambia in three years.

During their first invasion in 2013, the creatures destroyed crops countrywide.

Friday, 16 December 2016

Army Worms Invade Kitwe, Destroy Maize Fields In Kamfinsa

Agricultural officers checking the worms
By Paul Shalala
Army Worms have resurfaced in Kitwe and destroyed maize in much of Kamfinsa area.
The worms have so far attacked and eaten maize in five farms.

These little creatures have wrecked havoc in the area and farmers are crying.

Moving from one field to the other in their thousands, these creatures are leaving a trail of destruction.

Kitwe District Agriculture Coordinator Dr. Raphael Muyaule says the outbreak is not very widespread and should not alarm the farmers.
                          
"We have sent officers on the ground and i can tell you that the army worms have not invaded the whole of Kitwe but a few areas. They are actually in the early stages of their invasion," said Dr. Muyaule.

He says the worms are hatched from eggs laid by moths and the larvae grows into the destructive army worms.

"Because of the short dry spell we had, the eggs have hatched and the army worms have been born. But we are lucky because the rains are falling and this reduces the spread of these creatures."

Dr. Muyaule has further advised farmers across Kitwe to report any suspicious looking creatures in their fields to the nearest agriculture office.

And the farmers who have been hit hard by the army worms are crying.

"I live in the Police camp and i have a farm in this area. For the past one week, these army worms have destroyed our crops. Am appealing to government to help us with chemicals to kill them," said Aliness Mwanza.

Other farmers are already predicting a poor harvest due to the army worms.

Last year we had bad rains and we did not harvest well. This year we thought we were free but these creatures may just wipe out our crop and leave us in poverty," said John Ngambi, another farmer who has lost his crop to the army worms.

The army worms have also been spotted in the neighbouring districts of Luanshya and Ndola. 

Zambia first experienced the destrution caused by army worms in 2013.

In that year, the army worms destroyed maize fields in various parts of the country.

The creatures were spotted in all the 10 provinces and caused irreparable damage to the country's staple food.

According to Wikipedia, the African Army Worm, whose scientific name is Spodoptera Exempta, is capable of wiping out grasslands and fields in a matter of weeks.

It adds that the army worm is a moth which increase in numbers during a dry spell.

Sunday, 10 July 2016

Environment-Friendly Farming And Use Of GMOs By U.S. Farmers

By Paul Shalala in Homer, New York
Cattle at McMahon's Zacres farm in Homer, New York

As the debate over the usage of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) rages on in Africa, farmers in the United States think GMOs are good and have no effect whatsoever.

In the small village of Homer in Cortland County, northern New York state, is the family-owned farm called McMahon's Zacres owned by brothers Michael and Peter McMahon.

The duo bought the 2,200 acres farm from their father in 1986 and since then, they have run it as a dairy farm and invested over US$10 million.

During a recent visit to the farm by this blogger, the owners revealed that the farm has at any given time 700 fully grown cows and 700 calves.

Being a dairy farm, all bulls are sold off and calves are only milked for 32 months before being sold off as beef.

Due to lack of workers across the United States who can at a farm, Zacres employs five Mexican immigrants who milk the cows three times a day using some of the latest high tech dairy equipment.
A Mexican immigrant milking cattle

One of the Mexicans found on duty was able to milk 150 cattle within an hour.

"Americans don't want to be dirty. We cannot find anyone willing to do this job, that is why we employ these Mexicans because they are hardworking," said Peter McMahon, a co-owner of the farm. 

The workers are also responsible for sweeping the bans three times a day after every milking session.

The cattle is fed by maize grown at the farm and only a few nutrients are bought to supplement the feed. 

According to Peter, the farm uses genetically modified organisms in cultivating maize which is used as feed for the milk producing cattle.
Peter McMahon

“We grow our own corn (maize) here to feed all the cattle. We use GMOs in all our fields and this goes well with our crops because they do not kill any organisms. We will continue using them, we will not stop because they change to carbon dioxide after 30 days,” said Peter.

When asked if the GMOs were harmful to the environment, Peter said its actually non-GMOs which affect the environment and kill wild animals.

“A long time ago we used pesticides to protect our corn. One such pesticide was toxic. Birds would collect and swallow it. They would fly a few meters in the sky and later drop dead. But the GMOs are friendly to the environment because they melt and disappear."

He adds that at the time they used to apply pesticides, worms used to die in large numbers but now they are plenty in the fields.

One of the maize fields at the farm
The farm has also adopted environmentally friendly practices due to the high number of residue that comes from the cattle.

The 1, 400 cattle at the farm produce enormous amount of dung on a daily basis and mishandling it can cause environmental problems.

Workers at the farm collect the dung and store it in a storage family before its dried and scattered in the fields.

According to company records, the farm produces eight million gallons of manure annually and if discharged in nearby rivers and dams, it could pollute both the water and the environment.

“We work with an environmental consultant who regularly comes to taste our soil for levels of manure. We also store the manure and dispose it off in environmentally friendly areas,” said Peter.

He also said that every three months, workers pour lime across the farm to neutralise the manure once it is disposed off.

The company has also adopted a policy of not planting maize near rivers and dams to avoid chemicals flowing from the fields to the water bodies.

The farm is affiliated to environmental bodies
This farm is a major producer of Greek Yoghurt in New York state and employs a fulltime nutritionist who looks after the cattle's feed.

Its environmental programmes have even been approved by the Cortland County Agricultural Environmental Management which promotes soil and water conservation.

At the state level, McMahon’s Zacres is a member of the New York State Cattle Health Assurance Program which promotes animal health, food safety and environmental stewardship.

The farm works hand in hand with Cornell University whose extension officers monitor the farm’s activities and ensure standards are followed and animals are kept in good condition.

The university, which is located in the neighbouring city of Uthica, is the only major learning facility in new York state which specialises in agriculture.

And in neighbouring Onondaga County, farmers and county agencies are working together to protect the picturesque Skeneateles Lake from pollution.
Skeneateles Lake

The lake is the only source of water for Syracuse, the third largest city in New York state.

Over 50 farms surround the lake which is estimated to hold about 400 million gallons of water.

On a daily basis, the Syracuse Department of Water Affairs pumps 40 million of gallons to the city which is over 100 kilometers away.

“On a daily basis we treat this water. We use chlorine and UV system to purify it. We pump 40 million gallons of water daily to Syracuse and it takes six hours for it to reach the city,” said Mike Lynn, Skeneateles Water Plant Manager.

The lake has been supplying water to Syracuse for over a century.

Skeneateles area has 50 percent of its land covered by forests while 40 percent is farmland.

Authorities in the area are now partnering with farmers to ensure they do not pollute the lake which is also a tourist spot for people who enjoy water sports and fishing.

“In the past years, we have spent over US$40 million to preserve the water and protect it from pollution. We work with 42 farmers and ensure they comply with environmental guidelines,” said Rich Abbott from the Syracuse Water Department who has worked with farmers in the area for 30 years.
Mike Lynn

Mr Abbott said county inspectors tour all farms to ensure there is no discharge of effluent in the lake and make sure all farmers follow laid down regulations.

He also said farmers in the area strictly practice crop rotation to ensure chemicals do not spoil the soil.

“To protect the lake from farming activities, all farmers have planted trees between the fields and the lake as a buffer zone.”

The Skeneateles Watershed Agricultural Program and the Syracuse Water Department work together to safeguard the lake from polluters.

According to the Syracuse Water Department, Skeneateles lake is fed by over 150 rivers and tributaries.

The lake is one of the 11 so-called Finger Lakes which flow from southern New York state and stretch northwards closer to the Canadian border.

They are called Finger Lakes because they look like fingers on the map. 

Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Zambia Calls For Affordable Food Prices

By Paul Shalala in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

The Zambian government says there is need for African states to find better strategies that will make food prices affordable to all Africans on the continent.

Leader of the Zambian delegation to the three day meeting of Senior officials meeting on Agriculture and Fisheries in Ethiopia, Derrick Sikombe says the strategies must also ensure that there is price stability and stability of income for farmers.

Mr Sikombe, who is also Chief Agricultural Economist in the Ministry of Agriculture in Zambia, says there is also need to provide services such as electricity, water and sanitation in rural areas in order for agricultural production to be increased.

He said this when he addressed the plenary session of the senior officials meeting at the African Union Headquarters this morning.

Mr Sikombe added that knowledge and skills in food processing and preservation must be made readily available in Africa so that people engaged in agriculture can help increase productivity.

Meanwhile, Uganda has called on African countries to enact laws that will regulate and promote nutrition in all AU-member states.

According to the submission by the Ugandan delegation to the meeting, enforcing laws such as guiding each district to produce a minimum amount of a certain crop can help boost nutrition levels in each country.

And the Zimbabwean delegation has proposed the prioritization of strategic food reserves as a way of ensuring food security.

According to Zimbabwe, food reserves maintain a balance in times of need and therefore governments must spend more money in maintaining them. 

But Sierra Leone has complained that most of its youths who are based in urban areas are shunning the villages due to lack of basic services.

The Sierra Leonean delegation says since the country emerged from war over a decade ago, basic services are non-existent in rural areas and youths can not take part in agriculture because they do not like rural areas.

The three day senior officials meeting has attracted agricultural officials from all African countries who are preparing resolutions that will be adopted by Agricultural ministers during the Joint Ministerial Conference on Agriculture which will take place on Thursday and Friday this week in Ethiopia.

Agriculture Ministers from across Africa are later this week expected to converge at the African Union headquarters to discuss agricultural issues as part of the Year of Agriculture and Food Security.

Zambia will be represented by Agriculture Deputy Minister Greyford Monde who is expected in Ethiopia tomorrow.

Monday, 28 April 2014

Spending On Agriculture up 7% After CAADP Launch

By Paul Shalala in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

The African Union has disclosed that public spending on agriculture in Africa has risen by over 7% following intensive efforts by the continental body to boost the agricultural sector through initiatives like the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP).

African Union Commissioner for Rural Economy and Agriculture Tumusiime Rhoda Peace, says the increase in spending is commendable but much more must be done on the continent.

She adds that for transformative growth to be realised through the agriculture sector, the marginalised, vulnerable, women and young people must be taken care of so that no one is left out.

Ms Tumusiime says AU-member states must ensure they tackle all challenges in order for transformative growth to take place on the continent.

She says 2014 being the year for Agriculture and Food Security, more needs to be done to ensure that this sector which employs over 75% of Africa's workers improves livelihoods and transforms lives.

Ms Tumusiime said this during the official opening of the three day senior officials meeting on agriculture, rural development, fisheries and aquaculture at the African Union Headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia this morning.

Meanwhile, the meeting has attracted experts, government officials and organisations from across the African continent who are expected to come up with a policy framework and recommendations ahead of the Joint Conference of Ministers of Agriculture, Rural Development, Fisheries and Aquaculture which will take place from first to second May this year.

Senior officials and experts from Zambia's Ministry of Agriculture are also attending the senior officials meeting.

Zambia's Agriculture Deputy Minister Greyford Monde is expected in Addis Ababa on Wednesday to represent Zambia at the joint ministerial conference.

Mr Monde, together with other Ministers of Agriculture from across the continent, are expected to adopt recommendations from the senior officials meeting that are expected to boost agriculture on the continent.

The African Union has declared 2014 as the year for Agriculture and Food Security and several activities have been lined up to press member states to prioritise agriculture.

The theme for the year of agriculture is Transforming Africa's agriculture for shared prosperity and improved livelihoods through harnessing opportunities for inclusive growth and sustainable development.

This year, the continental body is also taking stock of CAADP which was launched in 2003.

40 countries have so far embraced CAADP and signed the compact.

In June this year, the African Union heads of state summit is expected to adopt targets that are aimed at accelerating agriculture on the continent.