Deputy Director - Ministry of Agriculture, Mr Stanislaus Chisakuta (2nd left), who was representing the Minister of Agriculture, Hon. Micheal Katambo, presents the awards to Lubinga Pathias Nchimunya (middle) while UNZA Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Luke Mumba (left) looks on during the 2017 Award Presentation Ceremony in the School of Agricultural Sciences on Thursday, 24th May 2018.

Minister of Agriculture, Hon. Michael Katambo, MP, says that the Government of Zambia has prioritised the agricultural sector as a key driver in national economic growth and poverty reduction. Hon. Katambo, who was represented by Deputy Director, Department of Agriculture, Mr Stanislaus Chisakuta, said this during the 2017 Award Presentation Ceremony in the School of Agricultural Sciences at the University of Zambia, Great East Road campus on Thursday, 24th May 2018.

He said that the University of Zambia was strategically placed to assist Government in promoting the Agriculture agenda through training and development of skilled human capital as well as research on various crop varieties. Hon. Katambo also called upon the University to develop new degree programmes which would address the many challenges farmers were facing in the country. The University was urged to carry out research on diversifying the crop production to include cassava, palm oil, soya beans, wheat and other cash crops and stop the heavy reliance on maize.

In view of the inadequate infrastructure of the University, Hon. Katambo, called upon the cooperating partners and private sector to work with Government to help the University of Zambia construct more lecture theatres, research facilities, staff offices, student hostels and laboratories.

At the same function, the University of Zambia Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Luke Evuta Mumba, announced the introduction of a new Bachelor of Science degree in Agronomy in the School of Agricultural Sciences which would be delivered on distance learning mode to enable the working Zambians and others acquire professional qualifications. He said that the University of Zambia was determined to develop degree programmes which would be relevant to the needs of society.

Prof. Mumba said that the School of Agricultural Sciences had developed two new varieties of Cow peas from the local Bubebe and Butembwa varieties. He said that four more improved cow peas were under research. The School of Agricultural Sciences is also working on new bean varieties which are resistant to pests with remarkable yield.

Prof. Mumba also thanked the sponsors of the awards to students who performed outstandingly well. These are: Eva Mazala, British America Tobacco Zambia, Zamseed, Crop-Chem, Bank of Zambia, ZNS, Novatek, Mushika, Livestock Development Trust, Gelson Tembo, ZANACO, Turtle Agro Mining, OMNIA, Saro Agric Equipment, Parmalat Zambia, Drinah Banda Nyirenda & Antoine Kabwit Nguz, Food Science and Nutrition, NAZ, Plant Science, and Zambia National Farmers Union.

Moreover, the following members of staff were honoured for their handwork in research, sourcing of funds for research, mentoring students, and for international recognition for distinguished performance: Dr. Alic Mutiti Mweetwa and Dr. Kelvin Kamfwa.  And one student worth mentioning here is Lubinga Pathias Nchimunya who scooped six awards.