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THE Ministry of Agriculture has taken a giant stride towards revitalising the nation’s agricultural sector with the launch of a comprehensive 2022 – 2026 Strategic Plan.

The unveiling of this roadmap marks a pivotal moment for the country, signaling a commitment to fostering sustainable food, nutritional and income security.

Speaking during the launch, Acting Minister of Agriculture, Makozo Chikote, said the successful implementation of the Strategic Plan, will ensure that the Government actualises its commitments to farmers and other stakeholders within the crops subsector.

Mr Chikote said despite the delay in launching the Plan, the Ministry focused on major reforms and has already made significant progress in implementing some of the measures which had been prioritised in the Plan to transform the agricultural sector.

“The Ministry’s Strategic Plan is aligned to the Party Manifesto of the United Party for National Development (UPND), Zambia’s Vision 2030, The Second National Agricultural Policy and The Eighth National Development Plan,” he mentioned.

Mr Chikote further disclosed that the Ministry had mobilised resources to advance and accelerate the development of farm blocks through improving electricity and road connectivity.

“We have continued to make efforts to connect more farms to power, and improve connectivity through the construction and rehabilitation of feeder roads and bridges in a number of farm blocks,” he stated.

Mr. Chikote noted that the Ministry had also continued to implement reforms to the Farmer Input Support Programme (FISP) through enhanced beneficiary selection and reduced malpractices in the distribution of farming inputs.

“Commencing in the 2023/2024 agricultural season, government has further introduced a Sustainable Agriculture Finance Facility (SAFF), to provide much needed finance to producers in the maize value chain,” he added.

Mr. Chikote also stated that the Plan reflected a commitment to addressing challenges while leveraging on opportunities for growth adding that he is hopeful that the Plan will meet the expectations of all players, and support the ministry’s policy objective of improving production and productivity in the crops subsector.

“It is my considered view that the 2022-2026 Strategic Plan will help consolidate our ministry’s efforts in delivering quality agricultural services to the public. The plan will also ensure improved coordination of the ministry’s programmes in order to promote a smart and value centred ministry that efficiently utilises the resources at its disposal,” he said.

Speaking earlier, Ministry of Agriculture Permanent Secretary in Charge of Administration, Yvonne Mpundu, said the Plan had been developed to provide a clear operational framework through which the needs and expectations of the Ministry’s stakeholders can be adequately satisfied.

Ms Mpundu highlighted that the Plan was more than just a document, adding that it is a commitment made by the current Government to make agriculture a pillar of sustainability, innovation and employment creation.

“The 2022-2026 Strategic Plan is an operational framework that will guide the implementation of programmes in the Ministry. This document articulates the institutional and operational requirements of the Ministry, in order to actualise some of the key commitments,” she disclosed.

The success of this Strategic Plan will hinge on effective implementation, collaboration with stakeholders, and a shared commitment to realising Zambia’s agricultural potential. – NAIS