JAPAN has availed a K172million grant to Zambia, to promote agriculture diversification through rice production. The funds would help promote improved seed research and technical support to promote rice production in high yield districts around the country.
Speaking during the signing ceremony of exchange notes for the ‘development of rice seed production field and training facilities’ in Lusaka yesterday, Finance and National Planning Minister Situmbeko Musokotwane said agriculture sector diversification was key to the ongoing economic restructuring programme.
“The Government will continue to put in place the right policies and measures that provide an enabling environment for further investments in crop production by both local and international investors in the country. In this regard, the Government welcomes your continued support to the agricultural sector and rice production in particular, as well as other high potential crops to fully unlock the sector in Zambia,” Dr Musokotwane said.
He said the agreement was in line with the Eighth National Development Plan which had prioritised agricultural among the sectors to contribute towards economic transformation and job creation.
At the same occasion, Japanese Ambassador to Zambia Mizuuchi Ryuta said the project would be implemented under Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and Ministry of Agriculture collaboration.
Mr Mizuuchi said the project, which would be implemented over the next three years, would include the construction of new training facilities at the Mount Makulu and Mansa research stations.
He said the project would bring about higher income for the farming population and more potential for economic growth in the agriculture sector.
And JICA Zambia Chief Representative Yonebayashi Norihito said the formal agreement with the Ministry of Agriculture would be signed soon, as yesterday’s ceremony was a precursor to the grant’s signing.