Zambezi Times Online 2004

Farming Is Not Only For Retirees

LUSAKA, Mar 15 - Agricultural activities should not only be done by retired people, agriculture minister Mundia Sikatana has said.

Sikatana said in an interview that government would now ensure that it engaged more young people in agriculture.

"Youths should come into agriculture. It's not only for old people," he said.

He said Zambia had a lot of natural and human resources and that it had the political will to produce more.

He said this was evidenced in the ability of the nation to produce more crops for consumption and for export.

"If more people engaged into agriculture, we could do 10 times better," he said.

Sikatana said he would ensure that Young Farmers' Clubs in schools and colleges were revived so as to encourage youths in agriculture.

He said government was currently working with the University of Zambia and other colleges to see how agriculture could be emphasised in higher institutions of learning.

"We want to see the school curricula modelled so that pupils learn agriculture in primary schools," he said.

Sikatana said the reintroduction of resettlement schemes would be a good development.

He said resettlement would be the answer to the urban people who were currently suffering.

"They should be resettled to places where they will be of more use," he said.

He said if the resettlement programme was strengthened, boys who dropped out of school could be empowered instead of having to roam the streets.

He said as the Office of the Vice-President was considering rural resettlement schemes, it should also consider putting up infrastructure such as schools, roads and clinics so that people could be persuaded to go to the rural areas.

Sikatana said his ministry was equally concerned with the issue of Value Added Tax (VAT) on the farmers.

He said currently there were negotiations going on between farmers' representatives and government.

He hoped the outcome of the negotiations would be positive, as it would be for the benefit of all Zambians.

But Sikatana would not say whether or not the negotiations would involve the review of the budget.

"The most important thing is that they are constructive negotiations," he said.

by Kingsley Kaswende
Source: The Post/All Africa Global Media

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