By Lumbiwe Mwanza
THERE is urgent need to increase agricultural resilience through better risk management in Zambia in the face of continued failed weather patterns countrywide, experts have said.
Recently a high level meeting on the dissemination of the final results of the Platform for Agricultural Risk Management (PARM) was held organized by PARM in collaboration with Ministry of Agriculture on Agricultural risk management in Zambia.
The meeting was designed to disseminate the findings, recommendations and proposed investment plans to support implementation of tools identified to strengthen Agriculture Risk Management in Zambia.
The two studies were focused on enhancing the Zambian Warehouse Receipt Systems (WRS) and on improving access to agricultural risk information among stakeholders and smallholder producers In Zambia.
The meeting had representative from ministry of Agriculture, ministry of Finance, ministry of fisheries and Livestock, Disaster Management and Mitigation Unit, technical and financial development partners namely World Food Program, IFAD, World Bank, DAO, GIZ , farmer organizations, academic and research institutions and civil society organizations.
During the meeting, it was Agreed that effective agricultural risk management strategies play a vital role in fostering productive and sustainable investment across the food and agricultural value chain in order to ensure food and nutrition security, eliminate hunger and reduce poverty, and contribute effectively to the Gross Domestic Product(GDP) growth.
Speaking at the event, Ministry of Agriculture permanent secretary Songowayo Zyambo said 200,000 hectares of land has been put under irrigation countrywide to mitigate the current effects of droughts and dry spells being experienced.
Mr Zyambo said Zambia is seeing a surge of interest in irrigation among small- scale farmers as climate change brings more erratic weather and demand for a reliable harvest is growing.
As a mitigating factor, Mr Zyambo said the ministry is promoting irrigation development programs intended to assist farmers in the face of failed rainfall.
The Seventh National Development Plan targets to bring 100,000 hectares of land under irrigation by 2021.
He noted that Zambia has the potential to bring 2.75 million hectares of land under irrigation adding that to date 200,000 are under irrigation.
The permanent secretary said boosts in irrigation could help protect the country’s food security in the face of extreme weather conditions driven by climate change and be an engine of development.
Mr. Zyambo further challenged scientists at all levels to up their game in the fight against the effects of climate change through the development of appropriate technologies for the small scale farmers countrywide.
He said climate change is reality and has come to stay hence the need for all stakeholders to work together and help mitigate, transfer, share and adapt to risks being faced.
PARM technical specialist Massimo Giovanola said a proper understanding of the risks faced by the agricultural sector and effective strategies to manage those risks is vital to creating a diversified and resilient economy for sustained growth and economic transformation.
Mr Giovanola said drought, floods, and price volatility appear to be the principal risks affecting crop Agri-culture in the country.
He said in terms of the severity and frequency of adverse impacts, and how they affected food security, rural livelihoods, and the broader economy, these varied somewhat between agricultural subsectors and between different regions in Zambia hence the need for a holistic approach in the agricultural risk management.
In Zambia, more than 60 percent of the population lives in rural areas and relies on agriculture for their Livelihood. Agriculture is therefore a key sector for Zambia’s growth and poverty reduction programs.
However, with the increase of extreme weather events and climate change Zambia’s agricultural development is being affected by human and naturally induced shocks including: El Nino and La Nina, occurrence of droughts, dry spells and floods, plant and animal diseases.