Zambia pushes for innovation in agriculture to accelerate food security

By Jeff Kapembwa

ZAMBIA’s hosting of the 4e Mid-year African Union summit held in the capital Lusaka last July called: “Strengthening resilience in nutrition and food security on the African continent” has led to a call for innovative technologies and has become the linchpin for sustainable food security.

Inspired by resolutions of the summits of African heads of state and government in the capital of Equatorial Guinea, Malabo since 2003 to date, linked to the theme of the African Union meeting, Zambia aims to strengthen production through innovations and the become the food basket of the continent.

At the Malabo meetings, one of the key decisions as Africa is to work together through the RECs at the national and regional levels, through the RECs in the food and agriculture fields, to identify and prepare fundable projects, and to mobilize resources to support them. and to invest in sectors essential for agricultural growth and development.

President Hakainde Hichilema had underlined the need for Africa to steer and possess an agenda at the AU’s semi-annual meeting on July 17-20 to realize the ambitions of the 2063 agenda. This is despite the ubiquitous disruptions of climate change, the COVID-19 pandemic and the war in Ukraine.

Urges Africa, in order to address climate change and other shocks, to encourage innovation in Member States and to consider signing and ratifying the Africa Risk Capacity Convention and opening aid channels in planning, preparing and responding to these shocks in a timely and cost-effective manner and restore food insecurity.

“We need to increase agricultural productivity, emphasize value addition through agroprocessing, accelerate agricultural research, focus on and provide greater support to rural farmers whose livelihoods are primarily dependent on agriculture.” he said in his address to delegates calling for reliable transport connectivity

Zambia’s Ministers of Livestock and Fisheries, Makozo Chikote and Agriculture, Reuben Mtolo share a common vision; improving and maximizing the technological innovations induced in the country to isolate the country from climate change, COVID 19 and other related calamities that have caused the economic downturn since 2020.

Zambia’s annual fish shortage averages 87,000 tons, with a production capacity of over 100,000 tons (mt), with about 85,000 tons coming from catching fisheries, while the aquaculture sector is currently still in its infancy, contributing about 30,000 million tons

Innovative practices include conservative fish farming to reduce increasing post-harvest losses and discourage poor fishing practices through the use of snares. Zambia encourages women and children in coastal and inland areas to be active in increasing food security.

“I am impressed with the innovation and we have a test to pass the technology on to the small-scale rural farmers and increase food security, but we need to work with all players in the sector to ask the livestock.” Minister Chikote recently said after a tour of the 94e Agricultural and Trade Fair in Lusaka.

And Agriculture Minister Mtolo said Zambia has adopted a “smart technology investment” initiative to bolster food production by setting up agro-processing plants in all 107 districts and all 10 provinces to encourage value addition and increase the return on “exported added-added products”. to maximize value.

Zambia is encouraged to grow and harvest tomatoes, pineapple, mangoes, groundnuts, among others, although it is hampered by a lack of agro-processing plants in the country resulting in waste that goes against the vision of the Africa Continent Free Trade Area (AfCFTA ) to provide reliable markets for all Member States, 46 of which have now ratified the Convention made operational last year.

On July 28, President Hichilema inaugurated the Kalene Hills Fruit Factory for K130 million (US$810,000) for multiple fruit processing operations in northwestern Zambia. It will process a variety of fruits and other agricultural products such as beans, groundnuts and tomatoes using small-scale farmers as suppliers to ultimately drive value addition.

In April 2022, the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa, in collaboration with the African Development Bank (AfDB) and the United Nations Economic for Africa, sought to establish a Joint Agro Industrial Park to improve the availability of industrial goods and services for the bilateral market and to expand intra-regional trade in the manufacturing sector.

The industrial park, which will partially straddle the border, will help develop industrialists seeking to acquire ownership and management of the industries. It is hoped that priority will be given to the processing of value chains such as cotton, corn, wheat, rice, soybeans, sugar, livestock (leather and dairy) and horticulture.

The sectors provide extensive links with the processing sector, especially in the processed food sub-sector, which is essential for fostering industrial activities for skills and knowledge development in industries, strengthening cooperation and strengthening networks between policy makers, regulators, industry and the academic world.

The project is aligned with the COMESA industrial strategy adopted by the member states and creates a globally competitive, environmentally friendly, diversified industrial sector based on innovation and production as tools to transform regional resources into sustainable prosperity and prosperity for all.

The project aims to encourage the creation of Special Economic Zones (SEZs) and exploit their potential and later be used as platforms for regional and sub-regional markets and the supply of inputs, said Comesa Assistant Secretary General Dr. Kipyego Cheluget.

The African Union is cautious about the impact of food insecurity on the continent and calls for massive investment to be mobilized for substantial agricultural production in Africa, says its chairman, Macky Sall, who is also Senegal’s president.

“We urgently need to win the battle for food security to resolve an existential issue and face a challenge of dignity for our continent.”

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