Statement by Honourable Allan Mbewe, Deputy Minister, Ministry Of Agriculture And Co-Operatives Zambia,on the occasion of the thirty-third session of IFADs Governing Council
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Statement by Honourable Allan Mbewe, Deputy Minister, Ministry Of Agriculture And Co-Operatives Zambia,on the occasion of the thirty-third session of IFAD's Governing Council
Ladies and Gentlemen.
Let me in the first instance congratulate you Mr. Chairman and your Bureau on your election. I also wish to commend the president of IFAD and his management team, on the positive developments made during his first year of office. It is wonderful to note that your office is now finally complete especially with the recent appointment of the Vice President of IFAD. From the outset, I pledge my country's support.
We meet in this 33rd Session when agriculture is on top of the world agenda. This is evidenced by the focus on in last year's High level events, namely the G8 L'Aquilla Summit in July and the World Summit on Food Security in November, 2009. The challenge we face is to translate the resolutions or agreements from these various summits into tangible action for the well-being of our people.
The renewed focus on agricultural development and climate change is particularly pleasing for us from the developing countries. The recent experience in which we were faced with high agricultural commodity prices has taught us all that we need to pay particular attention to the sector. However, high or rising prices for agricultural commodities should be viewed as opportunities for farmers to increase production and productivity. This will in turn help increase food security and incomes.
Allow me to commend IFAD on the wonderful work it is doing in financing agricultural development projects in the developing countries, especially in trying to tackle the structural problems relating to poverty in the rural areas where the majority of our population live. It is pleasing to note that in its various programmes, IFAD specifically targets women who are heavily dependent on agriculture and related activities for their livelihoods. Experience has shown that empowering women farmers is key to achieving agricultural development because evidence has shown that economic empowerment of women results in improvement in rural livelihoods, better child nutrition, better health and education.
IFAD's interventions also focus on country-specific solutions by increasing rural poor peoples' access to financial services, markets, technology, and ensuring sustainable use of natural resources. IFAD should further encourage and promote interventions that assist countries tackle issues on climate change resilience through efficient investments in sustainable land management, afforestation, agro-forestry and use of seeds that are drought tolerant. It is also important to help countries develop better models that help predict the impact of climate change. Enhancement of pro-poor agricultural research is also fundamental to raising smallholder productivity and production. Another important area of emphasis is to encourage investment in infrastructure such as irrigation and rural roads, to enable smallholder farmers take advantage of higher prices.
Let me take this opportunity to thank IFAD Secretariat for organizing side events at which topical issues will be discussed. Indeed the thematic focus for the side events which will dwell on climate change and agriculture, natural resources management, smallholder agriculture and management of water resources are key to the development of agriculture in most of our countries.
Distinguished Governors, Ladies and Gentlemen,
The importance of increased investment in agriculture for food security and income generation cannot be over- emphasized. Apart from investment, there is need for continued improvement of sector policies. Further, there is also need for promotion of institutional reforms that will stimulate and facilitate accelerated expansion of the agricultural sector.
There is growing consensus in Africa that if agriculture is to be the main sector to stimulate economic growth, investments should go beyond improvement of on-farm productivity to also cover agri-business and agro industrial production. In particular, value addition should be promoted as there is great potential for domestic and regional agri-food markets. Emphasis should be on promoting private sector investment in the agriculture sector from both domestic and international sources.
My country's vision is to have an agricultural sector which has the following attributes:
- High productivity and production,
- Profitable agriculture value chains that effectively link small and medium, scale producers to markets,
- Increasing farmer incomes,
- Sustainable utilization of natural resources, and
- Generation of increased and higher quality employment.
The net result will be an agricultural sector that significantly contributes to poverty reduction and wealth creation among our citizenry.
Within our national development plans, we are focusing on increased resource allocation and investment to the following areas:
- Primary agricultural production for the domestic, regional and international markets,
- Value addition or agro-processing,
- Promotion of farm mechanization to ensure that more farmers adopt improved technologies, and
- Use of inputs to improve productivity.
My country is in full support of the African Union (A.U.) initiative on agriculture, namely; the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP). To this effect, we have developed the CAADP country Compact. The CAADP Compact spells out the priority programmes for the development of our agricultural sector. These broadly include:
- Sustainable land and water management,
- Agricultural productivity improvement,
- Agricultural marketing and value addition,
- Food and nutrition security, and
- Research and extension.
At this juncture, allow me to take this opportunity to express Zambia's appreciation for IFAD's financial assistance to the agricultural sector in my country. Our close cooperation has also been enhanced by the opening of one of only three country offices globally for this year. My country and IFAD recently signed a loan Agreement for the Support to the Agri-business Promotion Programme (SAPP) with a total loan package of US $ 20.2 million under the 7th Replenishment. This support will result in more farmers being drawn into production for the market, leading to increased food security and incomes. We are also implementing other on-going IFAD funded programmes targeting livestock and rural finance. IFAD's support to the agricultural sector in my country will greatly contribute to enhanced food security and increased incomes among the targeted farmers.
We are hopeful that with the increased allocation under the 8th replenishment more of our rural population can be facilitated in a manner that improves their livelihoods. Zambia is pleased to inform the Governing Council that the amount of US $ 86,000 is being pledged to the 8th IFAD Replenishment Fund.
Let me conclude by once again expressing my government's gratitude to IFAD and other financing partners for supporting agricultural sector programmes in my country. These efforts will assist in the eradication of rural poverty and help our country to prosper.
I Thank You.
17 February 2010