Small scale farmers cry for more money
MINISTER of finance, Margaret Mwanakatwe must review the budget allocation for agriculture sector and make immediate adjustment upwards if we are to make the sector more effective and efficient to drive the economic growth of the country, the Small Scale Farmers Development Agency (SAFADA) has demanded. SAFADA director, Boyd Moobwe said that the K5.4 billion allocated to the agriculture sector was a drop in the ocean because it catered for fisheries, crops and livestock. Mr Moobwe pointed out that the budgetary allocation for the electronic voucher system of K1.4 billion and the amount allocated to fisheries and livestock were not enough as this did not include research and extension services. He told the Daily Nation that the budget allocation for the Food Reserve Agency FRA) was equally not enough to enable the institution to operate effectively and efficiently to make the marketing sector more comfortable and consistent in its operations. Mr Moobwe urged Government to at least double the budget allocation and make it K10.8 billion. “This means that Government should revisit the budget and ensure that the allocation is tied to specific projects in the production, marketing and technology which should include agriculture research and extension service. The budget is not addressing issues related to climate change although irrigation and diversification is mentioned,” he said. Mr Moobwe said that over 85 percent of the population was predominantly living on agriculture economy and were key stakeholders in the sector. He expressed happiness that the Ministry of Agriculture was aware that it only catered for a small fraction of the small scale farmers in the country hence the need for SAFADA to work with the rest of the farming community who were not reached. Meanwhile, Mr Moobwe said that diversification should engage small scale farmers to go organic farming and that a specific budget allocation should also be considered. “I am happy the new minister of Agriculture, Michael Katambo is psychologically and economically addressing challenges in the sector and sincerely request the entire ministry to work with him. Mr Katambo allowed SAFADA to have an audience with him, we appreciate his stand to support small scale farmers,” he said.