The Socialist Party says it shall prioritise agriculture among other key sectors once it forms government following the 2021 general elections.
Speaking on Let The People Talk programme on Radio Phoenix Tuesday this week, party president Dr Fred M’membe said the Socialist Party once voted into office will pay a lot of attention to agriculture as it was one of the three key pillars to its developmental agenda.
“The biggest priority comes from the biggest challenge that we face, what is the biggest challenge today? I told you we are the fourth hungriest country in the world today, whatever we want to do if we are not able to feed our people we will have challenges, we will not even have the type of human beings that we want to have, a health human being is what we need to have, so we will pay a lot of attention to agriculture,” said Dr M’membe.
Dr M’membe explained that apart from agriculture the party shall put development premium on health and education as they were complimentary to each other.
He expressed concern that Zambia today had an agriculture sector that was not been informed by research.
“We don’t have research that is going on in agriculture seriously. Take for instance, rice production; I have heard people talking about how nice Mongu rice is, how nice Nakonde rice is, but that rice you can’t sale it anywhere in the world, it’s of a very inferior quality, its substandard rice. We have not spent money to research on rice. The last serious research on rice was in Sefula in Mongu, Western Province by JICA in the early 80s and since then nothing has happened,” he said.
Dr M’membe added that the country needed to invest in research for agriculture.
“If you go to Thailand today, a leading country in rice production, you go to the University of Bangkok, there is a Faculty just dealing with rice from Bachelor’s Degree to PHD, just dealing with rice production, you can’t compete with Thai rice. Our rice can’t compete with that rice. There is investment in it and Thailand is ripping huge benefits from rice globally, just look whenever you go, you find Thai rice. Bangkok alone has more than 200 varieties of rice,” said Dr M’membe.
And Dr M’membe said it a was a joke to hear a lot of Zambian leaders talking about fish farming. He noted that while a lot of money has been wasted in aquaculture industry no meaningful research had been done to justify or support such investments. He further noted that the research on fisheries being conduct at Zambia’s universities was not adequate.
“I have been to all institutions of higher learning, my doctorate research is in fish farming and I have moved from Chiyawa to Kalulushi looking at all the fish ponds that are around as a researcher, I have moved to all the producers of stock feed for fish, I have moved to all the institution that have something to do with fisheries, we are not there and am a fish farmer, I had 11 fish ponds but they were a disaster under the guidance of the Ministry of Agriculture. There is very little, which we can get from fish farming unless we invest in fish farming research,” charged Dr M’membe.
He said there was a lot the country was not doing well and urged Zambians to invest a lot in researching.
“We have been growing beans in Mbala, Nakonde, Isoka, Mafinga and other parts of Northern and Muchinga provinces. What research has gone into beans production? The quality of beans is diminishing, we have grown it for a very long time without any research, our beans cannot compete with Brazilian beans,” he said.
He said the country was not even producing enough beans to feed the nation.
“we don’t even have enough beans to feed our own people and beans is not needed just for human consumption, it is also needed for livestock as you can produce stock feed from beans, there is a lot of things which you can do from beans,” Dr M’membe.