The government says agriculture remains key priority sector in its poverty reduction agenda for Zambia.
Lusaka Province Minister Sheal Mulyata says this is because the majority of the vulnerable but viable people in communities depend on agriculture for their livelihoods.
Ms. Mulyata adds that agricultural development has the potential to impact on extreme poverty and hunger, which affects the majority of the communities in the country.
Speaking in Rufunsa on Monday when she flagged off the input distribution exercise under the Food Security Pack (FSP), the minister said that the new dawn government has given first priority to agriculture.
This is evident by the move taken to increase the number of beneficiaries from 1,300 beneficiaries to 2,124 beneficiaries in the 2022 /2023 farming season.
“I am reliably informed that this programme is specifically targeting the poor and vulnerable but viable farmer households especially the female headed households, ” said Ms. Mulyata.
The main goal of increasing the number of beneficiaries is to increase production for good security and help small scale farmers to have access to agricultural inputs in a timely manner.
“The figures above may not be sufficient to attend to all the vulnerable but viable farmers in our communities but reflects government efforts in improving good security at household level, ” said Ms. Mulyata.
She challenged communities to ensure that beneficiaries of the FSP pack follow the laid down guidelines for sustainability of the programme in the district.
Ms. Mulyata who is also Rufunsa member of Parliament encouraged community beneficiaries to pay back so that the number of beneficiaries may increase in future.
And Rufunsa District FSP Chairperson Baster Mumba said the vulnerable but viable farmers that received the fertilisers and seed were identified through a process called targeting during community meetings.
Mr. Mumba added that criteria followed were the beneficiary household who met one or more of the females headed household; child headed households and. disabled household.
Others included household ages 65 years and above; household keeping orphans; household with more than seven members; terminally ill headed household and unemployed youths
Mr. Mumba said the FSP beneficiaries in Rufunsa are deeply appreciative for the support government is giving to the vulnerable saying this is evident through the increase seen in the number of beneficiaries this year which has gone up by 824 from 1,300 beneficiaries last year to 2,124 beneficiaries in the 2022/2023 farming season.
“We want to commend the Government for the continued commitment towards the FSP programme and for increasing the number of beneficiaries in the 2022/2023 farming season, ” said Mr. Mumba.
And 82-year-old FSP beneficiary, John Mutinta said he is grateful to government for assisting the vulnerable but viable farmers in the area with inputs.
Mr. Mutinta said the assistance from the Government through FSP will contribute greatly to the household food security.
“We are grateful to the Government for the support received through FSP in Rufunsa District for the vulnerable but viable farmers, ” said Mr. Mutinta.
Meanwhile, Rufunsa District Commissioner Richard Mabena warned the FSP beneficiaries in the district not to sale the fertilisers and seed received.
“I want to warn the beneficiaries of the FSP in the district that my team will be going round inspecting crop fields to ensure that no one sales the farming inputs, ” said Mr. Mabena.
FSP was introduced in November 2000 by government as a Social Safety Net programme under the Department of Community Development , to primarily empower vulnerable but viable farmer households who had lost their productive assets due to recurrent unfavourable climate conditions among other conditions.