The new farming blocks consisting of one million hectares of land created by the Zambian government represent a unique investment opportunity in the agricultural sector says Agriculture Minister Dora Siliya.
Ms. Siliya says the initiative will lead to the creation of new agricultural towns in which agribusiness that consist of value addition, processing, packaging, exports and other logistics will emerge.
Speaking in Berlin, Germany where she is attending the 10th Global Forum for Food and Agriculture, GFFA, Ms Siliya says the farming blocks will also lead to investment in infrastructure that support agriculture such as roads, new housing, schools, energy, hospitals, and police stations among others.
“This is the product we have come to sell here”, says the Agriculture Minister who is also Petauke Member of Parliament. In addition, the Minister says the farming blocks have also presented another investment opportunity in the Information and Communication Technology, ICT, sector.
“For the first time in the 2017/2018 agricultural season, we have gone 100% e-voucher creating an electronic database”, says Ms. Siliya.
The system allows for the allocation of farming inputs to deserving famers electronically and accessed within their areas of operation reducing on paper work that in the past led to delays in the distribution of fertilizers.
“But there are many backward and forward linkages that still need to be created such as ICT applications, ICT platforms linking the farmer to commodity trading, to markets, to price discovery, and to the financial sector such as the financial products available to the farmer”, says the Minister.
Ms. Siliya says these are opportunities especially for young people in which they could partner with government, the farmers, the banking community and agro dealers in the provision of ICTs and smoothen the interface with the farmer who is at the center of this ecosystem making it as seamless as possible.
During the 3-day conference, the Zambian Agriculture Minister says she will particularly be speaking to the private sector that she wants to see invest in the production of fertilizers which currently the Zambian government has to import.
Furthermore, Ms. Siliya says she will be speaking to them regarding the opportunity that lies in the manufacture of equipment such as “the small tillers, the small planters, and pesticides”.
In the area of value addition, the Minister says, “beyond the farm gate, we want those that can turn Zambian mangoes into mango juice, package Zambian chili for export, Zambian cassava into starch for export, our cotton into lint, create industries around our beef, our fish so that more jobs are created in our country”.
“And attending international conferences such as the GFFA provides us with an opportunity to tell the world that we are ready and open for business in the agricultural sector”, says Ms. Siliya.
And Zambia’s ambassador to Germany Anthony Mukwisa says the presence of the Minister at the GFFA is testimony of President Lungu’s determination at diversifying the economy and reduce its heavy dependence on copper as its main stay of the economy.
The GFFA brings annually leaders from politics, business, science, civil society and academy to exchange knowledge and experiences related to the global agri-food industry. It is organized by the Federal Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Consumer Protection (BMEL) in cooperation with GFFA Berlin e. V., the Senate of Berlin and Messe Berlin GmbH.