By Memory Chipili
“The mantle to develop the North-Western Province rests on all of us as local residents and not non-Zambians to change the status quo and create a conducive economic diversification especially in priority sectors that can produce fruit such as agriculture, tourism, energy, manufacturing and mining.”
Zambia Development Agency (ZDA) acting director Investments Moses Mwanakatwe made the remarks at a Business Symposium held on the sidelines of the ongoing North-West investment exposition in Solwezi where he explained the urgent need for the province to consider venturing into agriculture among other sectors instead of being dependent on mining alone.
Mr Mwanakatwe noted that Zambia boasted of 75 million hectares of land, of which the province sat on 12.5 million hectares.Of that spread, 5.8 million hectares was ready for use but only 2.7 million hectares was in use for agriculture purposes, with 46 rivers dotted across the province as a possible good irrigation option. This made the province a sound potential destination for agricultural investment.
“With all this land lying idle a lot more of jobs could be created if we can all consider taking up the mantle to open up and use this land in both small-scale and commercial farming ventures that will in turn help to improve the living standards of the locals in the province.”
He said in trying to diversify the economy of the country, Government had come up with the concept of farm block development whose aim is to specifically venture into commercialised activities such as livestock, poultry farming, milk processing and fisheries.
“Every province has potentially a total of 100,000 hectares of land set aside specifically for commercialisation of Agriculture purposes, and here in the province we do have the Solwezi farm block which is ready to be exploited by serious Investors,” he said.
Mr Mwanakatwe said the North West Expo has indeed unlocked the potential that the province had to develop through different key sectors aside from mining.
He said, for instance bee-keeping could be commercialised if value-addition was considered through honey processing factories, whose ripple effect would create jobs for locals and change their livelihood.
Mr Mwanakatwe added that the province was free from livestock diseases that affect other parts of the country, and from pests found in farming areas in other provinces.
“I challenge you, be you Zambian or non-Zambian, to come and approach the provincial administration and invest in the sector and take up the opportunities that are currently available and ready to be explored.”
Provincial permanent secretary Willies Mangimela said that the objective of hosting the province’s first-ever trade and investments Expo was to create long-lasting opportunities that would transform the local communities and give potential investors vital information.
“I encourage all exhibitors, partners and our visitors to reflect deeply on the theme and utilise the platform that is provided to get maximum benefit both business and networking purposes,” Mr Mangimela said. – Courtesy of SUMA SYSTEMS.