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Director General  José Graziano da Silva

Zambian leader praises food security and nutrition approach during FAO visit

FAO’s Director-General and President Lungu discuss cooperation projects and the effect of El Niño on the country’s agriculture
(Photo ©FAO/Giuseppe Carotenuto)
(left to right) H.E. Edgar Chagwa Lungu, President of the Republic of Zambia with FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva, FAO headquarters

5 February 2016, Rome - FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva today met with the President of Zambia, Edgar Chagwa Lungu, for the first time since his appointment in January 2015, for talks that focused on joint agricultural work and the country’s development priorities.

FAO’s work programme in Zambia has been designed taking into account the country’s Seventh National Development Plan as well as the recently signed Zambia-United Nations Sustainable Development Partnership Framework. Food security for the country, including the overcoming of nutritional deficiencies, is the core objective.

“Simultaneously tackling food security and malnutrition is cost effective,” said President Lungu. “That is what we are aiming at in Zambia. We look forward to collaborate closely with FAO to make sure that the men and women of our country benefit.”

“Zambia has such a great potential with its soils, water and people,” said Graziano da Silva. “Even if El Niño hit the country and vulnerable people, Zambia is prepared after having implemented several climate-smart agriculture projects and conservation agriculture that if expanded can build the resilience of farmers.”

He assured President Lungu of FAO’s support for the country. “FAO has been a long standing partner of Zambia and will continue providing technical expertise and support resource mobilization in the area of aquaculture, climate change adaptation and livestock,” he said.

Graziano da Silva noted the potential for rapid growth in Zambia’s aquaculture sector, in particular for growing tilapia to reduce dependency on imported fish. FAO is already working with the Government of Zambia – along with the African Developent Bank, WorldFish and the Rabobank Foundation – on a USD 40 million aquaculture enterprise development project, which is focussed on smaller fish farms and aimed at both increasing production and fostering entrepreneurial possibilities for young graduates.

Other FAO projects in the country include ongoing policy advice on rural social protection programmes, assistance with the country’s popular farmer field schools extension system, and the recent launch of an e-voucher enabling smallholders to purchase agricultural inputs. 

El Niño effects in the country’s agriculture

The two leaders also discussed thestrong El-Niño effect on Zambian crops during the 2015/2016 season, which has led to below-average rains and reduced cereal plantings by up to 20 percent, and even more in some southern and western provinces. [GIEWS Jan 26 2016]

While Zambia has substantial maize stocks after a record 2014 crop, the government is considering importing maize – the country’s main staple - from South America to stabilize supplies.

Given volatile weather and expected climate change patterns, President Lungu agreed that it is important to identify long-term responses and prioritised resilience building. FAO’s Director-General noted the Organization’s work in Zambia scaling up conservation agriculture by fostering market linkages and increased private-sector participation in value chains.