An elder in Western Province has called on government to invest in development of timber processing industries in the Province to alleviate youth unemployment in the Province.
Speaking in an interview with Zambian Eye Teddy Somili said the province is endowed with different species of Timber which was being exploited by foreigners and not benefiting the locals.
Somili said by investing in processing plants for timber government will be creating employment for youths in the province there by creating wealth at household level and local communities.
He said timber dealers from urban areas are exploiting the youths who are told to cut down logs and sold to them at cheaper price because of lack of saw mills in the province.
“Government should for once look at Western Province for possible developmnts, we have different species of timber here which is been transported everyday, why can’t government put up timber processing industries as a way to mitigate youth unemployment? Our local people are been exploited, they are selling logs of timber at a give away price sometimes exchanging with cloths while foreigners and people from urban areas are making millions of Kwacha out of it. We are seeing our young people sale these valuable natural resources that can help uplift their livelihood when we can be making finished wood products that we can be selling and exporting out of firewood.
“We know a lot of people are willing to invest in timber processing plants it is just a matter of a political will from officials in government. We are begging you please we also want to be part and parcel of this development journey of our country,” he said.
He also pointed out that youths in the province can also be empowered through fish farming as an alternative to agriculture.
He said with abundant water resources in the province it was illogical for people to be among those affected by the fish ban when people can be empowered in acquaculture.
He said with such empowerment in the province Western Province can become one of the main suppliers of fresh fish to urban areas and possible export in the region.
Recently FDD president Edith Nawakwi described the Timber industry as million dollar industry which government should tap into.
She said while people were concentrating on Mukula other species where being exported as raw material hence taking away the much need jobs from the country.
She said with investing in processing plants the country will benefit from its natural resources and gain the much needed tax as a finished product pays more tax than a raw material.