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Zambia calls on Africa to adopt climate resilient agricultural policies

LUSAKA Zambia (Xinhua) -- The Zambian government has called on African countries to adopt climate resilient agricultural policies if the continent is to adapt to the effects of climate change.

While acknowledging the adverse effects of extreme climate on agricultural production on the African continent, Minister of Agriculture and Livestocks Permanent Secretary David Shamulenge said the continent holds enormous potential to improve production if the right policies were adopted and funded.

"Climate resilient agricultural policies are one such policies that will help Africa adapt to the effects of climate change.

"Climate smart agriculture will enable the continent to contribute towards mitigation efforts," the official said at the start of a regional climate smart agriculture policy dialogue meeting.

The two-day meeting organized by the Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources Policy Analysis Network (FANRPAN), a regional think-tank involved in agricultural research activities, has been called to discuss climate smart agriculture as an adaptation and mitigation strategy to a changing climate.

The Zambian government official said the changing climate change was threatening Africa’s agriculture and the livelihood of many households hence the need to adopt policies to adapt to new climate changes.

"The impact of extreme climate, whether in the form of a super El Nino or other long-term trends, affects those that engage in agriculture in the region.

"If affects the food and nutrition security of the region and ultimately affects economic growth of the region," he added.

According to a Consultative Group International Agriculture Research (CGIAR), program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security in Africa, climate change was expected to lower crop yields by at least five percent with two degrees Celsius increase in temperate, and by about 15 percent should warming increase to 2.5 degrees Celsius.

On the other hand, the southern African region witnessed poor rainfall distribution with unprecedented mix of erratic rains, abnormally high temperatures and floods have caused havoc on farming, damaging a significant amount of this year’s crop.

According to figures released during the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Summit in Botswana recently, the poor rainfall distribution has left an estimated 27.4 million people requiring food aid by the end of this year.

The meeting is discussing results of a climate smart agriculture policy scoping exercise conducted in 15 African nations by FANRPAN.

The Zambian government official added that it was time for Africa to act and come up with clear roadmap on where the continent was going with climate change and agriculture.

He has since urged African countries to make agriculture integral to all international agreements and activities ahead of the 21st Conference of the Parties (CP21) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in Paris, France in December.

Agent Chula, the chairman of FANRPAN said during the same occasion that climate smart agriculture was vital in ensuring food security for the African continent.

The meeting, he said, will come up with required interventions to enhance climate smart agriculture.

The meeting is also expected to come up with favorable policy requirements for climate smart agriculture.

"The threat of climate change has never been more urgent than today. Africa is one of the most vulnerable continents to the impacts of climate change, which have negative implications on food security and economic development," he added.


Zambia launches initiative to promote cultural tourism

LUSAKA Zambia (Xinhua) -- The Zambian government has launched an initiative aimed at boosting cultural tourism, the Zambia Daily Mail has reported.

The cultural and tourist product initiative was dubbed "Pamodzi Carnival".

During the launching ceremony, Minister of Tourism and Arts Jean Kapata said Zambia was blessed with a rich diversity of cultures which, if well marketed, could contribute greatly to Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

"We have over 84 traditional ceremonies celebrated by 73 ethnic tribes.

"This potentially viable tourism product is what we need to add more variety to what we offer to the tourism sector," she was quoted as saying by the paper.

The marketing of Zambia’s tourism, she said, has in the past focused on nature, wildlife and water bodies like the Victoria Falls to the exclusion of the cultural dimension.

She called on travel agencies to work with the government to promote and market the initiative.

The government wants to make Pamodzi Carnival the biggest cultural extravaganza in the country.

The first carnival will be held on September 19 and will bring together the best of Zambia’s traditional music and dances.

Zambia’s CPI grows 7.3 per cent year-on-year in August

LUSAKA Zambia (Xinhua) -- Zambia’s Consumer Price Index (CPI), a measure of inflation, grew 7.3 percent year-on-year in August, the country’s statistics agency announced on Thursday.

It increased by 0.2 percentage points from the corresponding annual rate of 7.1 percent recorded in July, according to the Central Statistical Office.

"The increase was mainly attributed to the increase of prices in the transport division and was particularly influenced by increases in prices of liquid fuels, road transport fares and car license fee," John Kalumbi, the agency’s director told reporters during a monthly briefing.

Last month, the country’s energy regulator, the Energy Regulation Board, announced an upward adjustment in the pump prices of fuel, a move that resulted in an increase in prices of public transport.

However, the statistics agency said the annual food inflation for August remained at 7.8 percent while annual non-food inflation increased to 6.7 percent from 6.2 percent recorded in the previous month.

In the 2015 budget, the government has planned to achieve a 7.0 inflation rate by the end of this year but recent economic developments in the country have led to speculations that this may not be achieved.

Foreign investment in Zambia to be stable despite power deficit: official

LUSAKA Zambia (Xinhua) -- The head of Zambia’s investment agency said the current power deficit which has resulted in increased power cuts will not affect Foreign Direct Investments in the southern African nation, the Zambia Daily Mail reported on Monday.

Zambia Development Agency (ZDA) director-general Patrick Chisanga said the country was well positioned for an upswing in pledged investments before the end of this year.

The investment agency has projected to attract over 4 billion U.S. dollars in Foreign Direct Investment recorded last year.

"The picture emerging from April onwards is that the situation is showing an upswing in pledged investments and we are sure that we will close the year on a much more attractive investment profile than last year," he was quoted as saying by the paper.

The official attributed this to the country’s continued political stability, which he said was a major asset in terms of attracting investment, as well as government policies aimed at easing the cost of doing business, licensing and support to the private sector.

Zambia is currently facing a 560 megawatts power deficit caused by reduced water levels in the reservoirs for hydro power generation.

The deficit has forced the government to embark on finding alternative sources of energy. About 90 percent of Zambia’s power needs are from hydro.

The official added that the private sector was fully aware that the current power cuts were due to climate condition factors as a result of poor rains experienced in the last rainy season.

Donors give Zambia U.S. 4.95 million dollars grant to increase electricity access

LUSAKA Zambia (Xinhua) -- Co-operating partners have given Zambia a 4.95 million U.S. dollars grant to help the southern African nation connect more people and small businesses to electricity, a statement emailed to Xinhua on Wednesday said.

The Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA) and Britain’s Department for International Development (DFID) have released the funds under the Global Partnership on Out-Based Aid (GPOBA), a global partnership program established in 2003 and administered by the World Bank.

According to the statement, 22,000 low-income households and 5,000 small and medium businesses in some high density urban and peri-urban areas will be connected to the national electricity grid.

The electricity connections project builds on a World Bank-supported connection fee subsidy program known locally as "Malaiti Oye", the statement added.

"Using an Output-Based Aid (OBA) approach to reach the poor, GPOBA will reimburse Zesco (the country’s power utility) once the electricity connections have been made and verified by an independent third party.

"The cost of connecting to the electricity grid is a barrier for the poor to access power, with only half of urban and peri-urban population using electricity for lighting and cooking," the statement said.

Access in rural areas ranks even lower with only three percent being connected and the project will supports the government’s goal to make electricity accessible to two out of three Zambians by 2030.

"This project includes additional elements to ensure that women and other traditionally marginalized groups are among the beneficiaries.

"Access to electricity for them will contribute to their improved quality of life and increase their participation in the economy, Catherine O’Farrell, head of GPOBA said in the statement.

According to the statement, the World Bank has been active in different aspects of the energy sector in Zambia and that the project will enable the bank to step up its support for improving access to electricity while testing a new and innovative approach to reaching the unconnected households.

Zambia government official dispels drug shortage reports

LUSAKA Zambia (Xinhua) -- A senior Zambian government official has dispelled reports that the country will face a critical shortage of essential drugs starting next month, the Times of Zambia reported on Tuesday.

Some local media have reported that the country will face a shortage of essential drugs in public health institutions following government’s failure to settle a 42 million U.S. dollars debt for medical supplies.

The reports said the country may face a critical shortage of essential drugs such as antiretroviral drugs, anti-malaria among others and that even if the debt is cleared now, there would still be a crisis due to delays in delivery of the medical products which would only be expected between December 2015 and February 2016.

But Deputy Minister of Health Chitalu Chilufya said the country has adequate stocks of drugs to cater for all public health institutions.

The government, he said, has put in place mechanisms to ensure the supply of drugs was consistent and uninterrupted, adding that as part of the strategic procurement planning in 2014, the government signed a framework contract with local and international suppliers of medicines which had helped the ministry to ensure the availability of drugs in the country.

The country, he added, had adequate stocks of antiretroviral drugs and essential drugs to last more than seven months.

"The consignment of these drugs have already started arriving in the country, as they are arriving in batches and we are working very closely with our cooperating partners ad our relationship is very cordial," he was quoted as saying by the paper.



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