By Bennie Mundando
THE Indaba Agricultural Policy Research Institute (IAPRI) has predicted a decent harvest in the 2020/2021 farming season, albeit the COVID pandemic which has ravaged the agriculture sector and affected productivity.
In his remarks in the Quarterly Bulletin for October to December 2020, IAPRI Executive Director Chance Kabaghe attributed this to the normal-to-above-normal rainfall season in the 20/2021 production season.
Mr. Kabaghe also said on the policy front, the 2021 year is a watershed for many key policy documents and that since the Second National Agricultural Policy (SNAP) ended in 2020, stakeholders expected an analysis of the SNAP performed and the launch of the Third National Agricultural Policy.
“In terms of the expectations of the Zambian Agricultural Sector in 2021, we expect a decent harvest given the projected normal to above normal rainfall season in the 20/2021 production season. Off course, the effects of COVID 19 on the 2020/2021 production season still need to be factored in once they are fully understood and other conditions such as the distribution of inputs and farmers planting actions.
“On the policy front the 2021 year is a watershed for many key policy documents. The Second National Agricultural Policy (SNAP) ended in 2020 so stakeholders expect an analysis of how the SNAP performed and the launch of the Third National Agricultural Policy. This will coincide with the development and possible launch of the Eighth National Development Plan as the Seventh National Development Plan ends in 2021. The review of these key documents will be taking place when the country is preparing for a general election to elect a new Government in August 2021,” Mr. Kabaghe said.
And reviewing the 2019/2020 production season, he recounted that the enactment of health regulations to curb the spread of the pandemic that included movement restrictions, social distancing requirements and stay at home orders highlighted how day to day survival for so many requires their participation in the sector to make ends meet.
He said although the pandemic hit after the 2019/2020 agricultural production activities had ended, some marketing activities particularly in the horticultural sector were initially affected due to movement restrictions and social distancing requirements imposed to curb the spread of the virus.
“However, the restrictions were quickly eased because of the negative impact on many people who heavily relied on the sector for their daily livelihood. Zambia’s performance in the 2019/2020 agricultural season showed signs of recovery from the drought experienced in the 2018/2019 agricultural season.
“Although the sector’s growth rate remained negative, it improved from minus 21.2 percent in the 2018/2019 season to minus 2.9 percent, mostly driven by good rains experienced during the season,”he said.