UNITED Party for National Development (UPND) president Hakainde Hichilema says his party will invest heavily in agriculture for improved productivity and diversification if he is elected president in the January 20 presidential poll.
Mr Hichilema said in a statement yesterday that his government would pay farmers on time and reduce the cost of inputs such as fertiliser.
“By providing proper support to our farmers, we will help them to grow and sell more and at the same time, bring prices down for consumers,” he said. Mr Hichilema said this would stimulate the economic growth and development through targeted investments in the agriculture sector.
He said that though the Patriotic Front (PF) government criticised the MMD on this score, nothing has changed for the better under their leadership.Mr Hichilema said that because of high food prices, there is need for proper management and due attention to the agriculture sector.He said the percentage of gross domestic product (GDP) spent on agriculture has gone down from 7.2 percent to 5.8 percent between 2008 and 2013.
“This doesn’t make sense to me. By investing more in agriculture, we can stimulate the economy, create jobs and bring down food prices. We need to invest in more storage facilities and we need to support the growth of milling facilities across the country,” Mr Hichilema said.
He said there is also need for a concerted effort to stimulate the growth of agro-processing industries while at the same time supporting the suppliers who want to take advantage of their geographical location. Mr Hichilema said Zambia needs a long-term plan for agriculture, adding that the UPND has a vision for unlocking its potential.