Mr Solomon Owens said the country’s food production lags far behind its population growth.
He said: “The population grows at 3.1 per cent per annum and food production is not matching that growth. We have to think seriously and all of us whether farmers, consumers or development practitioners, we all have a stake. This is the sector with the greatest number of stakeholders because anybody who consumes food is a stakeholder in the agriculture sector.”
Owens made this observation yesterday in his opening address during a validation workshop on the national agriculture sector strategy, held at the Kairaba Beach Hotel.
He informed the meeting of the number of strategy documents his ministry has come up with over the years on sub-sectors, such as horticulture and livestock. He expressed his government’s intention to diversify and commercialise the agriculture sector.
“I do not see lot of women [in the gathering] here. I do not see the young people here. From the government’s perspective, in any agriculture sector strategy, we need the women and youth because the women are the biggest producers and the youth make up 75 per cent of the population. These are supposed to be the people taking over from our ageing farming population,” he said.
Also speaking, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) country representative Dr Perpetua Katapa Kalala, described the validation workshop as a “very clear manifestation of the importance the government places on transforming agriculture into a sector that contributes fully to achieving food self-sufficiency. The sector, as we know, is a key contributor to meeting the country’s priority objectives. It is unarguable that the sector is the only source through which food security could be achieved at household level by at least 70 per cent of the country’s population.”]]>