Copperbelt Minister Bowman Lusambo says the Copperbelt region has tremendous potential to produce vast amounts of food that can feed the entire southern African region.
And a one day Copperbelt Consultative Indaba held in Ndola on Saturday has resolved to strengthen coordination between Government’s provincial and district planning departments and the private sector in order to accelerate development in the province.
Mr Lusambo said stakeholders in the Province need to work together and ensure that the goal to diversify the region from copper dependence to agriculture is realised.
He said districts such as Masaiti, Mpongwe, Lufwanyama and other rural parts of the Copperbelt have capacity to produce enough food to meet SADC’s food requirements.
Mr Lusambo was speaking in Ndola when he officially opened a one day Copperbelt Consultative Indaba aimed at aimed at deliberating on how best the province can move forward in light of the economic challenges arising from the fall in metal prices.
The forum was attended by traditional leaders drawn from Lamba land, Copperbelt Members of Parliament, the business community in the area including civil leaders from all the councils in the province.
In his opening remarks, Mr Lusambo called for strengthened coordination between technocrats working in Government, political leaders and other stakeholders.
He said the PF government has identified agriculture as a key alternative to mining which he said should be fully exploited.
Mr Lusambo said government is implementing various development projects across the province that will stimulate the growth of the agriculture sector such as the construction of appropriate infrastructure.
The Provincial Minister emphasised that failure to coordinate all development efforts will see the province fail to realise its full potential.
“The Copperbelt has the potential to feed the entire SADC region but it has failed to reach its full potential because of the lack of coordination. This province will never be the same again if we work together, putting aside our minor differences. My dream is to see the Copperbelt turned around,” Mr Lusambo said.
Mr Lusambo also cautioned the Province to guard against what he called dubious investors flocking the province.
He warned that the province will not allow dubious investors to come and exploit the resources just to enrich themselves saying the province is a no-go zone area for dubious investors.
All town clerks, Mayors and Council Secretaries shared their respective plans and budgets for 2017 and highlighted potential areas of investment in their towns and districts.
At the same event, Chairperson for Copperbelt Members of Parliament Alexander Chiteme assured the delegates that the elected officials in the province have the necessary political will to drive development.
Mr Chiteme who is also Nkana Member of Parliament commended Mr Lusambo for initiating the meeting which was well attended by heads of government departments and parastatals, Independent MPs, Chiefs and other stakeholders.
Meanwhile, Copperbelt Permanent Secretary Rev. Dr Howard Sikwela informed the gathering that some of the developmental ideas put forward will be incorporated into the 2018 national budget.