Farmers must innovative – IAPRI

Sustainable agriculture needs re-think to beat Covid-19 shocks

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Dr Mofya

BUUMBA CHIMBULU writes

ONLY innovative farmers, just like any other business, have a possibility to succeed post the Covid-19 pandemic which presents an opportunity to rethink sustainable agriculture in Zambia.

This is an opportunity to rethink sustainable agriculture in the country, says Indaba Agricultural Research Institute (IAPRI), Senior Research Fellow and Head Research on Agriculture, Food Security and Nutrition, Rhoda Mofya.

Dr Mofya emphasised the need to create a revolution in agricultural production by re-thinking sustainable agriculture.

She was speaking recently in her presentation during the Policy Monitoring and Research Centre (PMRC) 2020 Live Discussion Forum under the theme Zambia’s Post Covid-19 Economic Recovery.

“Ultimately, what we need to see is a revolution in agricultural production. We need to cease doing business as usual if we have to come out of this pandemic with effective measures to prevent future shocks.

“So we need something like a revolution to rethink and start doing things differently,” Dr Mofya said.

In a long term, she said, Zambia needed to build a sustainable and strong agriculture resilience.

She explained that this could be done by intensifying investment in irrigation, including dam construction, research for improved yields, resistance crops and market infrastructure.

Doctor Mofya stressed the need to enhance access to finance which was critical to farmers.

She emphasised the need to rethink the allocation of funds to the Farmers Input Support Programme (FISP) and the Food Reserve Agency (FRA) for Zambia to channel resources to agriculture investments.

“We know of 85 percent of the agriculture products ends up in the informal market and only 15 percent ends up in chain stores but with unimproved market infrastructure, it will not attract a lot of farmers to go into farming 

“So it is a chain, it is part of the food system where we need to ensure that even markets are put in place to allow the foods to reach the consumers Agriculture remains key if health security risks are to be reduced,” she said.

Covid-19, Dr Mofya said, was a systemic challenge because it was not only about health, but about food security as well.

“Something has to be done differently to circumvent a potential hunger disaster due to Covid-19. People need to eat for them to have strong immune system in order to fight the disease,” she said.

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