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“The only thing necessary for these diseases to the triumph is for good people and governments to do nothing.”

 

Low Agro Output Blamed On Aids

Times Reporter

AGRICULTURE and Cooperatives Minister Mundia Sikatana has attributed the low production levels in agriculture to the effects of the deadly HIV/AIDS pandemic which has ravaged the sector.

Mr Sikatana said this in Lusaka yesterday during the official opening of a workshop on the impact of HIV/AIDS on poverty, agricultural production, food and nutrition among the rural households in Zambia.

He said the failure by the agricultural sector in recent years to provide sustainable livelihood for rural households was one of the major factors which had contributed to rural poverty.

Mr Sikatana said the ministry had been spending a lot of money on funerals most of them due to HIV/AIDS when the money could have been channeled to other developmental projects within the ministry.

 

He said poverty had continued to be Zambia's major pressing challenges and the failure by the sector to produce enough even to feed the rural community.

Mr Sikatana said the country had a wealth of information on HIV/AIDS through scientific work but so far efforts to combat the disease had so much focused on its clinical and social dimensions.

"There has been less emphasis on analysing the effects of the disease on the agricultural sector and food production especially among the rural population which has since seen a drop in production levels," he said.

The minister said among other factors that were compounding the current poverty levels in rural Zambia were drought, floods, livestock disease and limited access to yield enhancing inputs.

He said since Government had targeted agriculture as the engine to generate economic growth this could not be achieved if no mitigation measures were put in place against HIV/AIDS especially in the rural sector for it mighty threaten the success of Government's efforts to promote agricultural development..

He commended the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) for supporting Government's efforts in poverty eradication by addressing the impact of the disease on the sector.

Meanwhile, the Society for Family Health (SFFH) has recorded a significant decline in the proportion of youths involving themselves in sexual activities resulting in a drop in HIV/AIDS infections in the capital city.

SFFH executive director Nils Gade said this during an information dissemination workshop on the findings of new infections at Pamodzi Hotel in Lusaka yesterday.

Mr Gade said according to a survey carried out in Lusaka last year, there was a significant decline in regular and casual partners among the youth which in turn reduced the infection rate.

 

He said analysis on behavioral data showed that the intervention caused by postponement of on-set of sexual activity among both female and male youths has reduced the length of exposure to sexual risks.

He said the results were achieved following wide dissemination of information through the media targeted at youths aged between 13 and 24 years.