GOVERNMENT through the Zambia Forestry and Forest Industries Corporation (ZAFFICO) will secure 50,000 hectares of land in each of the 10 provinces for the establishment of plantantions to transform Zambia into a major timber exporter.
Minister of National Development Planning Lucky Mulusa says the forestry industry can significantly contribute to employment and wealth creation if well harnessed.
Mr Mulusa said the establishment of forest plantations countrywide is in line with Government’s economic development programme aimed at reducing overdependence on mining.
This is contained in the Seventh National Development Plan (7NDP) released by Mr Mulusa on Wednesday last week to run from 2017 to 2021.
“Zambia Forestry and Forest Industries (ZAFFICO) currently employs a good number of people under the tree planting exercise, financed by the Government.
“According to estimates made by ZAFFICO management, land clearing, preparations and planting of 40,000 hectares of land would provide direct employment opportunities to 40,000 seasonal employees,” Mr Mulusa said.
He said the forestry sector will make significant contribution to the national economy once all the plantations are fully operational.
“This will contribute to eliminating social exclusion faced by the majority of the people who are skilled and have had no employment opportunities for decades. It will also increase forest production and productivity through research and development,” he said.
He said Government will also promote investments in the sector through public-private partnerships in environmental, forestry and other natural resources.
Mr Mulusa said the Patriotic Front (PF) administration remains committed to supporting value addition to wood and non-wood forest products in line with its economic diversification programme through industrialisation.
Government has also made a commitment to facilitate the creation of community bee-keeping cooperatives and quantity of honey harvested from forests to spur sustainable economic development.