Research institute highlights factors affecting investment in agriculture sector


Factors discouraging commercial farmers from investing in the Zambia’s agriculture sector have been highlighted by the Indaba Agricultural Policy Research Institute (IAPRI).

Among the factors pointed out by the IAPRI Executive Director, Chance Kabaghe, was policy inconsistency such as export bans which led to those who had invested in farming lose out when they were put in place.

Kabaghe noted that policy inconsistency had been a hindrance to attracting investment in the agriculture sector by commercial farmers who took farming as a business.

He said this during a session on Refocussing Zambia’s Growth Model at the launch of the Zambia Country Economic Memorandum by the World Bank on Wednesday.

“The problem that we have in the agriculture sector is really a policy issue. If we change our policies, that becomes positive and we will see many good farmers coming in.

“Our policies over the past 15 or more years have seen good farmers leaving out the production of maize whenever Government goes in, they have withdrawn. From the past three years, we have seen significant drop in productivity,” Kabaghe said.

He emphasised that the current agriculture policies were mainly meant to support small-scale farmers who were not taking farming as a business.

Kabaghe explained that, as opposed to commercial farmers, small-scale farmers could not take advantage of new technologies that would increase productivity despite having in place what supported them.

“Let us also look at import and export ban, you can imagine as a farmer you put so much money, you produce so much and then government says you cannot export because there is a ban.

“When the prices get crushed, you lose. So, now we have seen our big commercial farmers demanding that if these policies are put in place, we address that one, I can assure you that Zambia will feed the whole region,” he said.

He also talked about reforming the operation of Food Reserve Agency (FRA) to allow better prices for the commercial farmers.

“Let us also reform the operation of FRA, so that we do not declare that this is the price and therefore everyone should sell at that price,” Kabaghe said.

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