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Civil Society for Poverty Reduction - October 2001

3.7 Agriculture
There was general consensus on the importance of agriculture as a growth area for the Zambian economy. Both papers addressed common concerns with regards to the role of agriculture in economic growth and poverty reduction. However, issues pertaining to gender biases in access to land and credit were specifically addressed by the civil society.

Six specific priority interventions were identified:

  1. Land Development and support Services which basically accommodates a broad participation in issues related to water and land management seeking to make maximum utilisation of water and land.

  2. Infrastructure Development to include specific issues such as dam rehabilitation and construction specifically to mitigate drought periods, which have in the past exacerbated poverty.

  3. Agri-business Promotion and Training - this was observed as critical. Training and retraining in new farming techniques such as "conservation tillage" with skills enhancement about markets and their performance was also discussed. The role of government in regulating agri- business activities was observed as essential in the effort of economic growth and poverty reduction.

  4. Finance and Investment to address specific gaps in the access to finance were discussed. Deliberate policies to address this need required government to establish a finance house to lend at competitive rates that addressed the serious poverty levels in the hinterland.

  5. Technology Development and Dissemination this was discussed and generally agreed, however, in the absence of a Government position on Genetically Modified Crops/Organisms, there were mixed feelings on this issue. Areas related to small-scale irrigation schemes, especially in outgrower schemes for export crops was appreciated. Further, aspects related to crop storage among the small scale farmers were discussed as a critical component for poverty reduction.

  6. Food Security and Diversification - the discussion attracted debate on the need to improve livestock disease monitoring and eradication in disease prone areas. This was basically debated as one of the key contributors of poverty in Zambia. Contributions were also made to specific issues such as crop diversification, seed multiplication and the need to establish seed/grain banks.

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