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Key Highlights from the 2024 Budget Presentation Speech on Agriculture, Livestock, and Fisheries

The presentation of the 2024 budget unveiled a comprehensive strategy aimed at revitalizing the agriculture, livestock, and fisheries sectors in Zambia. Addressing the challenges of climate change, high input costs, and inadequate infrastructure, the government is committed to boosting food security, reducing poverty, and enhancing export potential. Here are the key highlights from the budget presentation:

Production Challenges: Crop and livestock production have fallen below their potential due to multiple factors, including the adverse impacts of climate change, rising input costs, and insufficient infrastructure.

Maize Production: Zambia successfully produced 3.2 million metric tonnes of maize in the 2022/2023 season, sufficient to meet domestic demand. However, increased demand from neighbouring countries resulted in higher maize and mealie meal prices.

Price Benefits: Higher maize prices are expected to benefit farmers, alleviate poverty, and contribute to foreign exchange earnings.

Reducing Production Costs: The government is implementing measures to lower maize production costs, including reducing fertilizer prices and encouraging millers to reduce mealie meal prices.

Comprehensive Agriculture Transformation: The Comprehensive Agriculture Transformation Support Programme will be launched, with a focus on extension services, finance, irrigation, value addition, and storage.

High-Tech Farm Blocks: Farm blocks will be developed to promote high-tech agriculture, increasing competitiveness and export potential.

Infrastructure Investments: Significant investments in infrastructure include road construction, bridges, powerlines, and irrigation systems within farm blocks.

Climate Change Adaptation: Climate change adaptation will incorporate smart agricultural technologies, conservation agriculture, and early warning systems.

Livestock Sector Improvements: In the livestock sector, priorities include enhancing animal health, identification, and traceability, with regional veterinary laboratories being established.

Animal Identification:
An online system for animal identification and traceability is being piloted, with plans to capture approximately 5 million cattle by December 2024.

Legal Reforms: Legal reforms through the Animal Identification and Traceability Bill will strengthen animal traceability.

Livestock Breeding Programme: A community-based livestock breeding program aims to provide high-quality breeding stock to farmers.

Forage and Pasture Production: Initiatives for forage and pasture production aim to enhance livestock carrying capacity and climate resilience.

Fish Hatcheries: The establishment of fish hatcheries will increase fingerling production, helping to reduce the fish deficit.

Promoting Sustainable Fisheries: Sustainable capture fisheries will be promoted through fishing bans and enhanced surveillance.

Agriculture Credit Window: An agriculture credit window will be established to support small-scale farmers and public service workers with affordable financing for inputs, equipment, and irrigation systems.

These highlights demonstrate the government’s holistic approach to improving agriculture, livestock, and fisheries sectors, with a strong emphasis on food security, poverty reduction, and expanding export opportunities. The budget reflects a commitment to address challenges and seize opportunities in these vital sectors of the economy.