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Graziano da Silva meets with Zambia’s outgoing Minister of Agriculture and Livestock

Sichinga commends Graziano’s “tremendous enthusiasm and unrelenting effort for agricultural development and unique leadership to FAO”

Graziano da Silva hands over the Save and Grow iniative book to Minister Sichinga.

28th March 2014 Tunis, Tunisia– FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva met today with the outgoing Minister of Agriculture and Livestock, Hon Robert K.K. Sichinga, to discuss FAO-Africa cooperation in eradicating hunger, and support to Zambia’s national priorities in agriculture and food security-related issues.

Their discussion touched upon the implementation of the National Agriculture Investment Plan for which resources have been mobilised from public resources and resource partners.

Graziano da Silva and Minister Sichinga also discussed the importance of cassava, a staple food in Zambia, only second in importance to maize. An estimated thirty percent of Zambians - about 4 million people - consume it as part of their diet.

During their discussion, FAO chief handed the Minister the Save and Grow initiative book.

“Time has come and now is that time for Africa to take responsibility for its own future and to deal with its own challenges, including creating jobs for our youths,” Minister Sichinga said after the meeting as he delivered a vote of thanks speech at the conclusion of the 28th FAO Regional Conference for Africa held in Tunis, Tunisia.

“The solutions to our continental challenges do not lie elsewhere but within ourselves,” he reiterated.

 “Since assuming office we have been witnesses to his unwavering commitment to ensuring that Agriculture fulfils our aspirations on the African continent”, the Minister said highlighting da Silva’s efforts in advocating for agriculture to be central in African’s national economic agendas.

Sichinga referred to his experience as Zambia’s Minister of Agriculture and Livestock and thanked da Silva for his inspiration: “I have come to really appreciate your tremendous enthusiasm and unrelenting effort for agricultural development for ending hunger in the African continent.”

 “You have personally aroused in me such a great inspiration to drive Agriculture in my country to develop a transformation programme for Zambian Agriculture,” the Minister stressed hoping it will contribute to “a bumper for the harvest for 2014.”

The Minister explained that as he now moves back to the Zambian Ministry of Commerce, Trade and Industry, his eyes will be set “on increased agricultural output”. He also highlighted agricultural commodities and produce processing importance for value addition to the country’s economy.

“I look forward to working with my successor as well as with FAO leadership to ensure that we have adequate food for local consumption and exports to the regions around us and beyond,” Sichinga underscored.

At his remarks, Minister Sichinga also expressed his “profound gratitude and complements to the Tunisian Government” for hosting the conference. “Please convey to your entire Government leadership and brotherly Tunisian people, our deep appreciation for your most generous and wonderful hospitality,” he warmly told Tunisian Minister of Agriculture, Lasaad Lachaal.