Delegation of the European Union to Zambia and COMESA

Speech of the Ambassador at the Signing Ceremony of the FA of the Performance Enhancement Programme Phase II (PEP II)

Lusaka, 10/05/2016 - 00:00, UNIQUE ID: 170815_1
Speeches of the Ambassador

Signing Ceremony

Financing Agreement of the Performance Enhancement Programme Phase II (PEP II)

 

Alessandro Mariani, Ambassador of the European Union to Zambia and COMESA

10 May 2016

 

Secretary to the Treasury

Senior Government Officials

Representatives from the media

Ladies and Gentlemen,

 

I am very pleased to participate in the signing ceremony of the Financing Agreement for the second Performance Enhancement Programme to support both the Ministry of Agriculture and the Ministry of Fisheries and Livestock (PEP II); and I would like to thank the Secretary to the Treasury, also National Authorising Officer for the European Development Fund, for the organisation and hosting the event.

The European Union has been engaged in supporting the development of Zambia's agricultural sector since 2006. Under the ongoing 11th European Development Fund the European Union and Zambia have agreed to scale up their development partnership in the agriculture sector with an allocation of €110 million (approx.1.2 billion Kwacha). The financing agreement that we are going to sign today is for a global value of €10 million (approx.110 million Kwacha) and is part of this global allocation for the sector.

Support to agriculture from the European Union has focused on assisting smallholder farmers to increase their production and productivity by getting a better access to inputs, services and markets as well as by adopting conservation agriculture. But the European Union is also among the cooperating partners directly supporting capacity development and management reforms within the Ministry of Agriculture and the Ministry of Fisheries and Livestock (now indeed two ministries).

A first phase of Performance Enhancement Programme was implemented between September 2012 and December 2015. This first PEP had a total budget of €8.9 million (more than 70M Kwacha) and supported MAL to

1) establish a change management mechanisms for better service delivery and organisational; efficiency of the Ministry;

2)   improve sector policy development, sector planning and financial management;

3) strengthen HR management and ICT in the ministry and for ministerial staff in the field;

4) and enhance the MAL M&E system .

Actually it is under PEP I that the European Union mobilised € 400,000 for the piloting of the e-voucher scheme during the 2014/15 cropping season to update the Farmer Registry and to identify, sensitise and backstop the farmers benefiting from the e-voucher system in the 13 pilot districts identified by the Government.

Today we want to do more, better and faster in full recognition that the Agriculture sector is a primary source for the very much-needed diversification of the Zambian economy. The European Union is therefore prepared to support the development of the enabling environment required for Zambia's agriculture to turn into one of the main drivers for economic sustainable growth and poverty reduction, bearing also in mind that poverty is concentrated in rural areas.

Our support to the agriculture sector will focus on efficient and effective public - private partnerships to facilitate farmers' access to quality inputs and services, on the one hand, and farmers' access to domestic, regional and international markets, on the other hand. 

Therefore, PEP II will assist the two Ministries to improve their capacity to deliver quality public services to smallholder farmers in extension services, research and nutrition. More specifically, PEP II will strengthen three core functions of the two Ministries

1. The use of evidence based data in policy making, planning and budgeting will be supported to facilitate better service delivery. This will include further improvement of the farmer registration system, agricultural statistics and early warning systems.

2. The Ministries' staff will receive specific training and support in order to deliver extension services in a manner that contributes to increased productivity and improved food and nutrition security in small scale farming households.

3. The vital role of agriculture in addressing nutrition outcomes will be strengthened by better strategic planning and mainstreaming of nutrition to agriculture services at front line.

I am confident that the two Ministries will make the best use of the opportunities provided by this project; and that both Ministries will continue providing adequate ownership of the reforms and changes advocated by stakeholders both at central and field level, including more effective extension services for farmers (with an increased role of private sector actors) and diversification from maize so to allow the development of nutrition sensitive crops, and foster agricultural research in support of evidence based policy development and state of the art extension work

Last but not least, let me take this opportunity to thank and congratulate all the staff in the Ministries involved in the implementation of PEP I for the strong and successful collaboration under the programme and their support in designing and formulating PEP II in close cooperation with the Delegation of the European Union.

The European Union is very committed to work hand in hand with all stakeholders in the agriculture sector so as to further strengthen our partnership for the benefit of the Zambian farmers and population. I take this opportunity to recall that the potential of the sector is huge given the natural resources available to Zambia (e.g.: arable land; water; etc) provided that the right policies are implemented. In this framework the European Union welcomes the large consensus amongst stakeholders in the agriculture sector on two concepts: (i) farming is business; (ii) agriculture is not only maize.  As already said, and beyond PEP II, around 87M € are available for new investments in the agriculture under the 11th European Development Fund. Last month we organised, in close collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture, a national stakeholders meeting to discuss about possible priority areas such as: (i) support directed to Non State Actors to enhance valued added chains in agriculture; (ii) conservation agriculture; (iii) irrigation; (iv) nutrition. Moreover we organised specific presentations on an innovative instrument (AgriFI) aimed at financing directly the private sector reducing the risk associated to new investments; and we are actively exploring opportunities to blend grants from the European Development Fund with loans from European Development Banks (e.g.: EIB; AFD; KFW) for the benefit of the agriculture sector.    

The European Union will continue to work with all the stakeholders in Zambia to make sure that the preparation of a new, comprehensive, agriculture programme (€ 87 Million; or approx.1.0 billion Kwacha) is successfully completed in the months to come.

I thank you for your attention; Zikomo Kwambiri

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