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Sunday, 2 November 2008

RB's Inauguration Speech

RB's full speech appears to offer an olive branch to the Opposition, and promises to turn Zambia into a "hub", a familiar theme of his. It remains to be seen what new ideas he has to turn this "hub" dream into reality, if the court prevents a recount.

12 comments:

  1. There are only 58,000 jobs in mining? This is what the country is losing $2.4 billion per year in mining profits for??? I could put a million (1,000,000) people to work with half of what they waste through lost income in a single year.

    Also, I don't like the emphasis on a feeble industry like tourism. Tourism can only do so much, and is bound to do well in times of economic prosperity, and do badly in times of global recession (which is what we're looking at until 2011).

    The real employment opportunities, security of the food supply, and the basis of a sound economy, are agriculture and infrastructure.

    Also, the big, costly power generation projects may well be technologically overtaken by power generation on a small scale, like solar energy generation. Who needs a billion dollar power station, when you can just put foil on your home and generate more energy than you need?

    Here is the rest of the speech on the economy:

    ZAMBIA IS BEAUTIFUL.

    WE HAVE WORLD FAMOUS SITES, GREAT NATIONAL PARKS FULL OF GAME, AND OF COURSE OUR HERITAGE.

    TOURISTS COME HERE BECAUSE THEY WANT TO EXPERIENCE THE REAL AFRICA.

    AND HERE THEY CAN DO IT.

    TOURISM NOT ONLY BRINGS JOBS SECURITY.

    IT GIVES US AN OPPORTUNITY TO PROTECT OUR ENVIRONMENT AND OUR CULTURE FOR FUTURE GENERATIONS OF ZAMBIANS.

    IT ALSO STIMULATES GROWTH, INVESTMENT AND IMPROVEMENTS.

    I HOLD PLACES LIKE LIVINGSTONE AND SOUTH LUANGWA AS EXAMPLES OF WHAT CAN BE ACHIEVED ALL ACROSS ZAMBIA.

    BUT I WANT TO SEE MORE.

    THE POTENTIAL TO OPEN UP THE LUAPULA AND THE NORTHERN PROVINCES NEEDS TO BE REALISED.

    THE WATERFALLS AND SCENERY THERE DESERVE TO BE SEEN BY OUR VISITORS.

    NOT JUST FOREIGN TOURISTS BUT ALSO ZAMBIANS.

    THERE ARE GAME PARKS AND WARM HOSPITALITY TO ENJOY.

    I WANT TOURISM CENTRES ALL OVER ZAMBIA.

    I WANT THE WORLD TO SEE HOW DIVERSE AND UNIQUE OUR COUNTRY IS.

    I HAVE ALREADY PROMISED TO REDUCE VISA FEES; THIS SHOULD WELCOME MORE VISITORS TO OUR COUNTRY.

    I ALSO WANT VISITORS TO ENJOY THE FRUITS OF OUR LAND.

    OUR FARMERS PLAY AN IMPORTANT ROLE IN FEEDING US ALL. WE WILL CONTINUE TO SUPPORT THEM IN PRODUCING FOOD SURPLUSES.

    THE PRICE OF FERTILIZER AND FUEL HAS ALREADY COME DOWN.

    THESE LOWER INPUT COSTS PROVIDE A VALUABLE WINDOW OF OPPORTUNITY.

    I WANT OUR FARMING SECTOR TO TAKE ADVANTAGE AND USE THIS WINDOW TO PREPARE FOR THE FUTURE.

    I WANT TO HELP THEM INVEST IN BETTER SEED AND NEW MACHINERY.

    I DO NOT WANT DROUGHT OR PEST TO HINDER OUR ADVANCEMENT.

    WE MUST BE ABLE TO SUSTAIN OURSELVES IN TIMES OF HARDSHIP.

    WE MUST BE ABLE TO HELP OUR NEIGHBOURS WHEN THEY NEED HELP, JUST AS THEY HAVE ALWAYS HELPED US WHEN WE WERE IN NEED.

    ALONGSIDE TOURISM AND AGRICULTURE IS MINING.

    MINING IS ANOTHER FUNDAMENTAL SECTOR IN OUR NATION’S ECONOMY.

    IT IS RESPONSIBLE FOR AROUND 80 % OF OUR EXPORT EARNINGS AND ALMOST 15 % OF OUR GDP.

    FOREIGN INVESTMENT IN THE MINING SECTOR HAS TOTALLED OVER $4 BILLION USD SINCE 2000.

    THIS SHOWS NOT ONLY INVESTOR CONFIDENCE IN COPPER, BUT ALSO CONFIDENCE IN OUR COUNTRY AND OUR PEOPLE.

    SINCE 2002 THIS GOVERNMENT’S POLICIES HAVE BROUGHT GROWTH AND STABILITY BACK TO MINING, RESULTING IN AN INCREASE IN PRODUCTION OF OVER 38 %.

    IN 2002 THERE WERE 34,000 JOBS IN THE MINING SECTOR, TODAY THERE ARE OVER 58,000.

    IN THE LAST SEVEN YEARS WE HAVE SEEN THREE MINES REACTIVATED AND TEN MAJOR NEW PROJECTS IN THE PLANNING.

    SINCE THEN THE GOVERNMENT HAS WORKED HARD TO ENSURE SOLID INWARD INVESTMENT.

    I AM PLEDGED TO CONTINUE THIS APPROACH.

    I AM ALSO PLEDGED TO SEE INVESTMENT AND MUCH NEEDED IMPROVEMENT IN OUR ENERGY SECTOR.

    I WANT ALL ZAMBIANS TO HAVE READY ACCESS TO RELIABLE ELECTRICITY.

    WITHOUT A RELIABLE SOURCE OF ELECTRICITY MUCH OF OUR ECONOMY IS HINDERED.

    I WANT A ZAMBIA WHERE LOAD-SHEDDING IS A THING OF THE PAST.

    WE ARE UPGRADING EXISTING POWER STATIONS AND ARE PUSHING FORWARD WITH NEW POWER PROJECTS.

    BY 2016 WE WILL HAVE 5 NEW HYDRO-GENERATING PROJECTS.

    WE WILL WORK WITH NATIONAL AND INTERNATIONAL PARTNERS TO DELIVER THE RURAL ELECTRIFICATION MASTER PLAN.

    AT PRESENT POWER SUPPLY FOLLOWS INDUSTRY; I WANT IT TO LEAD INDUSTRY.

    I CANNOT PROMISE TO SOLVE THE PROBLEMS IN JUST THREE YEARS BUT I CAN LAY THE FOUNDATION FOR THE FUTURE.

    I ALSO WANT TO SEE MAJOR PROGRESS IN HEALTHCARE.

    LIFE THREATENING DISEASES LIKE HIV/AIDS AND MALARIA MUST BE COMBATED.

    MEDICINE ALONE IS NOT THE ANSWER; EDUCATION IS ALSO VERY IMPORTANT.

    IN THE CASE OF HIV IGNORANCE IS A KILLER.

    MY GOVERNMENT WILL CONTINUE WITH ITS INFORMATION CAMPAIGN SO THAT IGNORANCE DOES NOT COST YOU YOUR LIFE.

    WE WILL CONTINUE INVESTING IN OUR HEALTH CARE.

    I WANT TO SEE NEW AND REFURBISHED HOSPITALS, BETTER TRAINING FOR DOCTORS AND NURSES AND A STRENGTHENED STAFF RETENTION SCHEME.

    I WANT ALL ZAMBIANS TO KNOW THAT ZAMBIA WILL BE SAFE AND SECURE UNDER MY PRESIDENCY.

    DURING MY CAMPAIGN I SAID “I WILL BE PRESIDENT OF ALL ZAMBIANS”.

    I MEANT THAT.

    NOW IS THE TIME TO MOVE FORWARD AND FOR ALL ZAMBIANS TO UNITE.

    LET US LOOK TO THE FUTURE WITH PRIDE AND WITH HOPE IN OUR HEARTS.

    I AM HONOURED TO HAVE SO MANY DISTINGUISHED INTERNATIONAL GUESTS HERE TODAY.

    I URGE YOU TO RETURN AND TAKE THE TIME TO SEE OUR COUNTRY PROPERLY.

    TO ALL ZAMBIANS I SAY THIS:
    I WILL NOT FAIL YOU.
    I INVITE YOU ALL TO WORK WITH ME.
    LET US TOGETHER BUILD A STRONGER ZAMBIA.

    FINALLY, AND ON A VERY PERSONAL NOTE, I MUST GIVE MY HEARTFELT THANKS TO MY WIFE THANDIWE AND MY FAMILY FOR STANDING BY ME AND FOR SUPPORTING ME DURING THIS CAMPAIGN.

    I OWE YOU EVERYTHING.
    MAY GOD BLESS YOU ALL.
    MAY GOD BLESS ZAMBIA.
    THANK YOU.

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  2. MrK,

    I tend to agree that tourism should not be developed as the backbone of the economy of any nation larger than Luxemburg, however I do feel that Mr. Banda's remarks do touch on (perhaps inadvertently) what I see as an important role for tourism in the character of overall national development.

    I think I first began to see the outline of the phenomenon in the experience of two pacific northwest Tribes attempting to maintain the economic viability of traditional artists. The local consumer population, both US and Canadian, tends to view such artworks as commonplace, even amateurish. With the opening of the Eastern Bloc of Europe however, it was discovered that carvings by these Kwakaiutl and Tlingit artists are highly sought after and fetch many multiples of the auction prices they ever could on the domestic market.

    Then as the 90's progressed I encountered a circumstance in Aegean Turkey where a collaboration by archaeologists with local and national governments arranged to bring tourists to ancient ruins otherwise being cannibalized for building materials by locals. Re-using the stone cut thousands of years ago was quite sensible for people experiencing hard times and growing populations, however the addition of tourist cash in any amount makes the stones into a renewable resource instead of a finite one.

    I was truly struck by the efforts of Save The Rhino, and their innovative methodology of linking the presence of the animals directly to the benefits for local people of the aid from international donations. Instead of spending all the cash given by environmentalists worldwide on behalf of rhinos towards the purchase of land for preserves and the hiring of rangers to combat poachers, they went to the villages bordering existing preserves that still had rhinos and built schools, clinics, wells and other tangible investments, year after year. The message was clear: dead rhinos bring money today, live rhinos bring money every year.

    Off the coast of Java, in Indonesia, many fishermen have routinely taken to using explosives on the local reefs. First-person interviews have apparently indicated that they are aware that this is likely to mean that their grandchildren will be unable to live by fishing, however they see no other means to bring home enough fish today to feed their children. Contrasted with the tourist-driven diving industries in coral rich places like Belize, their situation is not only bleak, but apparently unnecessarily so.

    Thus tourism provides more than just a revenue stream and employment, it brings players to the economic table with a whole different set of value judgments. Tourists themselves are often annoying, even offensive, but the cumulative effect of having them around, valuing things differently, is a kind of economic resilience of that which is unique and ultimately finite, if locally ubiquitous.

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  3. Yakima,

    " I tend to agree that tourism should not be developed as the backbone of the economy of any nation larger than Luxemburg "

    Excellent point. :)

    A similar argument to Rupiah Banda's is put forward by individuals who want Zambia to adopt the economic policies of city states like Hong Kong and Singapore.

    And your points about the chances of doing things in tourism that benefit local people are taken on board too.

    I think that either agriculture or infrastructure could employ more people than tourism.

    What I am looking for, is a candidate who will finally state the obvious, namely that:

    a) Zambia's main export is copper ($4 billion in 2004)

    b) That taxes from the mines should be reinvested in agriculture and infrastructure

    That way, development would take into account both securing the food supply, and creating mass employment.

    What I am afraid of, is that Rupiah Banda could be more of the same.

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  4. Sorry for the belated comment but Rupiah's victory leaves a sour taste in the mouth. No matter what good policies or no policies at all that he will articulate, the fact is that most Zambians feel that they have been robbed of their birthright by a few politicians in connivance with some bureaucrats. Zambians have been taken for granted for far too long, one day the lid of these boiling pot will blow off and not a few but many will be scalded.

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  5. Yakima,

    "With the opening of the Eastern Bloc of Europe however, it was discovered that carvings by these Kwakaiutl and Tlingit artists are highly sought after and fetch many multiples of the auction prices they ever could on the domestic market."

    Out of curiousity, do you know why these carvings were such a "hit" in the Eastern Bloc?


    On a general point, I think I pick up Kafue's comment on a recent post regarding the visa reductions, that tourism is labour intensive, requiring minimal skills. So in terms of job creation it probably can move very quickly!

    On top of that is that the assets that power tourism are local. Each area in Zambia I believe has something that could encourage tourists to go there. The problem is that government needs to identify local constraints and work alongside the communities to develop these.

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  6. The Namibian model is particularly relevant :

    http://zambian-economist.blogspot.com/2008/08/village-tourism.html

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  7. Cho,

    Apparently during the period prior to the US purchase of Alaskan territory from Russia in 1867 (commonly known as Seward's Folly), Russian ships would mostly brutally raid and sometimes trade with the coastal tribes. The artworks they obtained were often presented as gifts to patrons and nobility, and in turn were nationalized under the soviet system. Even during the isolation of the Cold War period, the largest museum collections from the region were behind the iron curtain.

    So with the collapse of the Soviet Union and the emergence of a new affluent consumer class, those who could afford to sought to outfit their homes and offices with the sort of items they grew up seeing in museums, especially those which had been valued by the previous noble class. Luckily this time around the demands of Russian consumers are beneficial to the Tribes and their artists rather than a threat to their existence.

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  8. I always have a problem to understand why agriculture is always mentioned as a contributor to national development. Can someone explain to me please? Why I ask is because even when budgets are made, agriculture receives a huge chunk. But suprisingly enough, some of that money is used on feeder roads. Is the grading of feeder roads part of agricultural activities or it falls under infrastructure? One would have thought that the ideal situation is to have local authorities undertaking the grading of roads. The other chunk goes to Fertiliser Support Programme. Fertilisers are part of the chemical industry - I do not know whether that is not manufacturing. Silos for the produce entails you are working on infrastructure; just like roads. Chilindamatula dust insecticide is from the pharmaceutical/ chemical industry. Making of corn flakes is part of the food industry. Making of farming equipment is part of manufacturing industry. So, what part of agriculture is it that is usually referred to as a contributor of development? Please help.

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  9. Anonymous,

    I always have a problem to understand why agriculture is always mentioned as a contributor to national development. Can someone explain to me please? Why I ask is because even when budgets are made, agriculture receives a huge chunk.

    I think there is a disconnect between the budget and actual development. Just as more of the budget goes to the ministry of local government, than to all local governments combined.

    There is a tendency to fund central government bureaucracy, at the detriment of actual service delivery (doctors, teachers, local councils, etc.).

    But suprisingly enough, some of that money is used on feeder roads. Is the grading of feeder roads part of agricultural activities or it falls under infrastructure? One would have thought that the ideal situation is to have local authorities undertaking the grading of roads.

    Absolutely. I think most of the actual service delivery should be done at the local government level. Teachers, nurses, etc. should be local council employees. I think right now, they are part of the civil service? (Please correct me if I'm wrong.)


    The other chunk goes to Fertiliser Support Programme. Fertilisers are part of the chemical industry - I do not know whether that is not manufacturing.

    Farmers (especially small and medium sized farmers) can easily produce their own fertilizers. It would take a little more work, but it would make the farms selfsufficient. And it would reduce inputs and increase profits.

    Compost, worm castings, fertilizers from bones and blood, or fish can easily made on the farm itelf. They actually add to the soil, instead of taking away from it, unlike chemical fertilizers.

    Silos for the produce entails you are working on infrastructure; just like roads. Chilindamatula dust insecticide is from the pharmaceutical/ chemical industry.

    Chemical pesticides can be completely replaced by beneficial fungi, bacteria, insects and plants. It would take a little more labour, but it would cost much less and would result in a better, healthier product.

    Making of corn flakes is part of the food industry. Making of farming equipment is part of manufacturing industry. So, what part of agriculture is it that is usually referred to as a contributor of development? Please help.

    Agriculture can help in 'development', by reducing unemployment, reducing the price of staple food and adding to the food reserves.

    Surpluses from agriculture can form the basis for manufacturing (canning, turning corn into cornflakes, turning maize into bourbon, cattle skins to handbags, etc.).

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  10. Thanks MrK.

    Perhaps I used wrong examples which could have caused you to lose a bit of focus when I used the term chemicals and herbicides. I am saying so because I have a perception that you do not like use of chemicals.

    Well that aside, I think you have answered part of the question but I still do not see what the Zambian context of development that can be attributable to agriculture on its own. Reducing unemployment levels? Well, may be not in the our politicians understand agriculture. May be horticulture or sugarcane. You see, the problem is that politicians have this linear model of thinking about agriculture. And do not forget that agriculture in Zambia is synonymous with maize cultivation. So they think like "we GIVE people farming inputs then they will be supervised by extension officers, then they will grow their crops to feed themselves and bingo we have sorted out unemployment". You have just managed to keep them busy but not providing employment. The problem is that they do not see agriculture as in its entirety and it being part of an interactive industrial society.

    Supposing we use politicians' understanding of agriculture (maize cultivation) in this discussion.

    In my view, we should be focusing on industries that support agriculture and not agricultural activities themselves. Let me just make an illustration of Nitrogen Chemicals (NCZ) which I see as a very strategic institution to agriculture through its production of fertilizers (organic or inorganic). When in full operation a lot of people were employed there - I do not have figures , but I am sure you do remember that unemployment levels were low in Kafue then. So we can make a network involving companies which were interacting with NCZ - some of them were involved in manufacture of machine parts (e.g. SKF - though it was not Zambian owned); suppliers of raw materials ( e.g. Kafironda); service providers (lodges, telephone,banks, schools, hospitals, hotels, water, power, thieves,the police etc) and many others. All these might have had a branch in Kafue, which implies they contributed to job creation.
    Now imagine how many people will be employed when we have three of such companies.

    I have a problem with the Zambian perspective of looking at agriculture becaues it is seen as having people either with their hoes or ploughs preparing their small fields in October, planting, weeding and harvesting in April. This is simply their cash-spending period ( I guess you have received some request for fataleza already).They do not have any other activity between April and October. So on whether unemployment can be reduced in that way is one question to be answered.

    May be we could think of commercial farmers who may produce for the local as well as export market. But again these are highly mechanised entities thereby ruling out their potential to contribute unemployment but again unless we see it form the indirect point of view of them providing raw materials for manufacturing industries who will empoly a lot of people. Or if they themselves open up processing plants.

    It would be irresponsible to think the even peasant farmers will be earning money through the export market. Doing so will be tricky because they do not have huge pieces of land and if they do have enough land they would not have year-round cultivation because their crops are mainly rain-fed.

    If we took an example of the livestock and poultry part of agriculture, you will find that support industies like Pharmaceaticals, energy serving-bulb producing companies, heating equipment producing companies, cooling system manufacturing companies play a big role in creation of employment. May be for poulrty we could say we have created some self-emplyment since today almost every house is rearing chickens hence self-employed. Though the only challeng is market. We have a potential for processing industries which could create a lot of employment.

    In a nutshell, agriculture contribution to GDP and employment cannot surpass that of manufacturing and processing industries. It is better operated at a commericial level because through other means it loses its value of being an economic activity and becomes an annual social activity which would better addressed by the Ministry of Community Development and Social Services.


    I have held this view for a long tome based on information like the one provided on this link: http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=TtKxDem7CrsC&pg=PA130&lpg=PA130&dq=percentage+contribution+of+agriculture++to+GDP&source=web&ots=cXDyZ37zFD&sig=4Y5nkNkyV9vgXVFesEw5e5OGBoI&hl=en&sa=X&oi=book_result&resnum=1&ct=result ;

    See how countries whose activities are mainly agriculture-based fair in terms of development. You will find that they are simply raw material producers and I doubt if they have reduced unemployment levels:-

    http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=50gv-XXvpfMC&pg=PA121&lpg=PA121&dq=percentage+contribution+of+agriculture++to+GDP&source=web&ots=MGovk9hBAv&sig=zCDbV8HddYRV_8j5EVTwiiu_QRw&hl=en&sa=X&oi=book_result&resnum=10&ct=result#PPA122,M1

    You can also see whether we can reduce unemployment with such approaches is the one below:- http://www.africa-union.org/root/ua/Conferences/2008/avril/REA/01avr/Pamphlet_rev6.pdf

    I think may be we wrongly put measures that have no direct link to the actual problems we want to solve.

    go anywhere with the kind of planing like this below

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  11. Anonymous,

    What I would like to see, are medium sized (100 hectare), organic farms.

    Let's say a family has 50 hectares of maize, that maize is sold at $200 per tonne, and that the yield per hectare is 2 tonnes (very conservative). They would have an annual turnover of (50ha x $200 x 2 tonnes =) $20,000 per harvest. If half of that is spent on cost, that gives them an income of $10,000. If because of irrigation, they have 2 harvests per year, that would be an income of $20,000.

    The other 50 hectares could be used for horticulture and green houses, cattle and livestock raising, etc. These activities could function as independent businesses which would employ the rest of the farmer's offspring, or employ locals. Let's say that employees keep 50% of all the profits they produce.

    Also, the fact that there is only 1 harvest as you have mentioned, is a function of the fact that only 3% of arable land in Zambia is under permanent irrigation. Farmers organise their activities around the arrival of new rains. Increase that percentage, and multiple harvests per year are possible.

    For a great example of on farm rainwater catchment, see

    Yeomans Keyline Designs
    SUPERB LANDCARE - SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT

    Permaculture Water Harvesting

    Creating water harvesting works like that could be a works project that in itself could put a serious dent in unemployment. The result of on farm water catchment will also reduce the annual flooding that is so destructive. And lastly, (see especially the link on Permaculture Water Harvesting), using swales, water can be stored underground in the soil, reducing both the opportunity for malaria mosquitos, and reducing evaporation at the same time.

    Starting A Commercial Greenhouse Business

    According to this Canadian government website:

    Tomatoes are normally planted at a population of 10,000 plants per acre. The main variety is Trust (an excellent red tomato) and a yield in the range of 35-45 lbs. per plant can be expected under excellent conditions. Average price has ranged in the $.62-$.90 per pound.

    So 1 acre of tomatoes in a commercial greenhouse would yield (10,000 plants x 40lbs per plant x $0,76 per pound =) CND$304,000

    That too would employ a lot of people.

    I think a lot of people in government confuse subsistence farming with commercial farming. Most subsistence farmers make a living off 2-3 hectares of land. Increase that to even 10 hectares (through mechanisation) and people can make a very decent living. Increase that to 100 hectares, and you're talking about a commercial enterprise that will have a major impact on the local economy, as well as the food supply.

    With so much land unused, mechanisation will not reduce unemployment opportunities, but increase them and result in higher paying jobs as well (as the production per employee goes up).

    I am in favour of organic agriculture, because it is 100% sustainable; everything that is needed can be grown on the farm (worm castings, compost, manures from livestock); the soil quality is improved as opposed to depleted by chemicals; and the final product is much healthier.

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  12. These are some great questions Anonymous! My answers will likely be inadequate, but the questions are so good that I cannot resist engaging them.

    Q 1: Why [is] agriculture always mentioned as a contributor to national development?

    A 1: Because it is how things progressed historically in the industrialization of Europe. There is a bias (possibly correct) toward development models which mimic the "successes" of the earliest industries, often without regard to the obvious differences facing developing nations today, such as globalized trade networks.


    A 1a: Because it is assumed that most able bodied people not engaged in wage-earning employment are instead already engaged in subsistence agriculture to meet their own family's food needs. Based on that assumption, it is further assumed that with increased productivity from chemical fertilizers and mechanization these same people would be able to produce a marketable surplus from the same land using the same amount of labor. Thus, somewhat erroneously, increased yields from agriculture is often viewed as an easy and inexpensive means to grow personal incomes and the overall economy.

    A 1b: Because it is political, any government expenditure which directly benefits some but not all people will be couched by elected officials in terms which make it at least appear to have indirect benefits for everyone. Since it is already assumed that most people are farmers, it is fairly safe to assume that many projects will be labeled "agriculture" as an artificial mechanism to inflate the size of the "constituency" served by the project. This is likely to persist for as long as it works -- as long as voters continue to elect leaders who employ such tactics.

    This leads us to some of your other questions:

    Q 2: Is the grading of feeder roads part of agricultural activities or it falls under infrastructure? ...Silos for the produce entails you are working on infrastructure; just like roads. ... Fertilisers are part of the chemical industry ... Making of farming equipment is part of manufacturing industry. So, what part of agriculture is it that is usually referred to as a contributor of development?

    A 2: While largely irrelevant to traditional subsistence farming practice, infrastructure for transport and storage of surplus production is essential to the vision described above in answer 1a. Simply growing more maize or cassava is not sufficient to sustain agricultural development, since these goods must be priced competitively with the produce of international agribusiness. If the cost of storing and transporting produce to market exceeds the profit to be derived from its sale, then the farmer is better off not increasing their yield at all in the first place.

    A 2a: Supplies of chemical fertilizers and pesticides, unlike the more effective methods mentioned by MrK, require ready supplies of cash to maintain, and are largely imported. Similar to many pharmaceuticals, once one has been used for any significant period of time, there are negative effects if it is stopped. In effect what these substances do is make for poorer soil and stronger insects over the long term.

    Chemical fertilizers are tailored to deliver their benefits to the plant itself, while organic fertilizers operate on the basis of increasing overall soil health which in turn benefits the plant. Healthy soil is like a small ecosystem in itself, containing a web of tens of thousands of species of microbes and other tiny creatures. Use of chemical fertilizer by farmers is analogous to bovine growth hormone use by ranchers, it may help the cow to grow larger and faster, but doesn't do anything for the grass it eats, requiring extra fodder to be procured elsewhere to meet its increased appetite.

    German dairies are finding that they can achieve increases in milk production per cow comparable to steroid use, without the side-effects, by improving the quality and variety of diet and reducing anxiety, tension and stress in the animal (they have even developed bovine activated massage posts which they can lean against and high strength water beds to improve sleep quality). Similarly, farmers who make use of organic compost or vermiculture (worm-farming) discover that they can steadily increase yields over successive growing seasons for no or low cost, as healthier soil has more to give to the plants growing from it.

    Chemical pesticides are applied arbitrarily, sparing certain individual insects based on their genetic resistance to the poison, which then pass the resistance on to their offspring. Use of predatory insects largely eliminates this type of adaptation, since any prey that escapes and passes on adaptations which then become expressed in the majority of the population, will find the predators adapting themselves in turn in response.

    Insects have short generations and high reproductive rates, they adapt quickly, and chemical pesticides just give them something specific to adapt to. On the other hand, the same factors mean that most insects do not learn, and thus can be tricked or trapped by rather simple mechanical means. For example, fruit flies are depressingly easy to catch simply by placing a sliver of fruit in a bottle and taping a paper funnel to the top. The flies eagerly navigate the inside of the funnel and through the hole into the bottle, but cannot fathom using the same hole in reverse from the outer side of the funnel and will remain trapped for the remainder of their short lives.

    A 2b: So the reason why government supports the purchase and distribution of chemical fertilizers and pesticides is either that they are simply mistaken as to the long-term effects of their use, or indifferent to them. In the short term, money spent on imported farm inputs and received from exports of the increased yields serves to increase the apparent economic activity of the agriculture sector. Certainly incomes are increased, but so are expenditures, however when these numbers go up we tend to call it a sign of development.

    Thus far I have failed to hear a flood of stories from Zambian farmers describing how use of these sorts of inputs has secured their long-term prosperity. Instead there is the seasonal fear that inputs which are now considered necessary will be either too expensive or insufficient in quantity or both. This is inevitably responded to by paternal intervention by benevolent government officials who are in no way trying to influence your vote by their display of largesse, of course not, they are merely acting in the nation's obvious best interests. Presumably there is a better way to proceed.

    I don't know if any of this really answers your questions Anonymous, but it was fun to try!

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