The British Chamber of Commerce, in association with and support from the Indaba Agriculture Policy Research Institute held an event on Economic Diversification in two of Zambia’s key sectors at the Taj Pamodzi hotel in April. This was attended by over 80 members and guests.
Presentations were made by:
- Hon. Given Lubinda, Minister of Agriculture
- Jacob Mwale, CEO of the Zambia Agricultural Commodity Exchange (ZAMACE)
- Felix Chaila, CEO of the Zambia Tourism Agency
- Edjan van der Heide, Chairman, Kafue Park Operators Association.
The Minister of Agriculture opened the event by informing the meeting that the intentions of the Government of Zambia in agriculture were enshrined in the National Agricultural Policy. Specifically, he mentioned that the goal was for Zambia to be a net exporter of food and to be the food basket of the COMESA region.
The strategies to be employed in realising this included:
- Use of improved crop varieties and certified seeds. He stated that the Government would not adopt GMO technology just yet.
- Emphasis on the agricultural farm block development to address the issue of having infrastructure that will attract agricultural investment.
- To put 7,500 hectares of land per year under irrigation.
- Increase the adoption of mechanisation across the country. He stressed that he was of the view that the hand hoe is an archaic technology that belongs to the museum. In this regard the government was going to set up mechanisation centres across the country.
- Diversification from maize was also stressed as a central strategy so that the country can exploit many other enterprises that are available with Zambia’s vast resources. The electronic voucher which was piloted last year and allowed farmers to choose enterprises that they deemed suitable was meant to encourage diversification. He added that even the traditional Farmer Input Support Program had now included more agricultural enterprises.
The Minister informed the meeting that the issue of agricultural subsidies in both input and output markets was difficult to address. He admitted that the fiscal space for the subsidies in Zambia that were mostly focused on maize and maize products was limited but stressed that many countries in the world including Europe still had subsidies. He reported that he was willing to listen to those that could suggest ways out of the subsidies for Zambia.
Here are the presentations made by the other speakers