AgricultureBreaking NewsClimate Change/ESG

Gov’t Assures Mitigation Measures Amid Drought Crisis

The Minister of Information and Media, Hon. Cornelius Mweetwa, convened a crucial Government-Media engagement session in Livingstone, Southern Province to address the pressing national concerns. The meeting, a weekly occurrence, centered on addressing matters of national importance and outlining the government’s response to the challenges faced.

Expressing gratitude towards the participation of women in the peaceful and successful International Women’s Day celebrations, Minister Mweetwa reiterated the government’s commitment to upholding order and achieving national peace under the New Dawn Administration. He particularly commended women from all political parties for their involvement in the event, emphasizing the importance of unity across party lines.

Highlighting the significance of peace in fostering harmonious coexistence and advancing democracy, the Minister urged citizens to emulate the spirit of unity witnessed during the Women’s Day celebration as the nation gears up to commemorate Youth Day on March 12th, 2024.

Acknowledging the unfortunate timing of International Women’s Day amidst a national disaster of drought, Minister Mweetwa assured the public that the government is actively addressing the crisis. Plans are underway to conduct a maize harvest focus to assess the extent of damage caused by the drought, with measures already in place to mitigate its impact.

Among the response measures outlined by the Minister are the realignment of the budget to allocate more resources for humanitarian relief, promoting contract farming for winter maize production, and increasing maize production through the involvement of the Defence Forces. Additionally, a tax waiver on irrigation equipment and collaboration with local and international partners for support have been agreed upon.

Addressing concerns regarding irrigation feasibility, Minister Mweetwa affirmed the government’s commitment to targeting unaffected water bodies for irrigation purposes. Furthermore, offers from neighboring countries such as Tanzania and Uganda to export maize to Zambia have been received, albeit subject to the Food Reserve Agency’s completion of purchasing locally produced maize.

In response to challenges in the energy sector, with only 20% of water being available for power generation at the Kariba Dam, households and farmers are encouraged to adopt alternate power sources such as solar electricity. Additionally, efforts to stabilize the foreign exchange rate are underway, with a focus on enhancing production and export capacity.

Regarding governance, Minister Mweetwa endorsed a study by Transparency International Zambia indicating a decline in corruption under the New Dawn Administration. He urged critics to engage directly with the organization rather than resorting to political rhetoric.

In the agriculture sector, a ban on the exportation of feed derived from maize ingredients has been imposed to safeguard local food security. Moving forward, government officials will conduct visits to FRA maize storages and drought-affected areas to assess the current maize stocks and coordinate relief efforts.

Assuring the nation of the government’s commitment to ensuring food security, Minister Mweetwa emphasized the importance of avoiding panic buying while reaffirming ongoing efforts to address the crisis comprehensively.

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