President Edgar Lungu has disclosed that government is focusing on policy and legislative reforms to educate local farmers on the emerging trends and opportunities in the agriculture sector.
President Lungu stressed the need for the agriculture sector to be transformed for export oriented in order for the economy to grow.
Speaking when he launched the export of fresh blueberry fruits to China by the Zambezi Berry Company, the Head of State explained that the country has the capacity to export agricultural products to competitive markets.
He observed that the Chinese market imports a significant quantity of blueberries from countries in North and South America hence was gratified that Zambia was positioning itself to compete for a larger share of the blueberry market in China.
The President was amused that in the midst of the Coronavirus pandemic, the country was able to export agricultural products to competitive markets
“There is definitely no doubt that this blueberry project will raise the profile of the agriculture sector in our country, particularly in the horticulture subsector. With this project, we have also become the only country in the SADC region to have access to the lucrative market for blueberries in china. This is a significant development in the history of Zambia. The Zambezi blueberry company deserves many accolades for making this happen,” President Lungu indicated.
The Republican President commended Zambezi Berry Company for also creating employment opportunities for about 2,000 people, indicating that it was a significant contribution towards government’s thrust of creating more jobs for the people of Zambia.
He pointed out the need for the country to increase agriculture production and put in place appropriate systems that support exports, and he assured farmers, governments commitment to ensure that challenges in the sector were addressed.
The Head of State also disclosed that government was already in the process of reviewing the legislation on industrial hemp and cannabis cultivation in the country.
And Chinese Ambassador to Zambia, Li Jie noted that the milestone had contributed to the bilateral cooperation between Zambia and China.
Mr. Jie disclosed that Zambia has been exporting high quantities of honey to China adding that the two countries have signed a contract of three million United States dollars to continue the honey business.
Mr. Li pointed out the fruitful developments that both countries have achieved in the agriculture sector during the recent past which is a very encouraging development.
“This will contribute to the promotion of the bilateral economic and Trade Corporation and development of the relations between China and Zambia. China and Zambia have already attained fruitful achievements in Agriculture Corporation,” Mr Jie stated.
The Ambassador added that agriculture production in Zambia has further attracted investment from Chinese entrepreneurs.
And Minister of Agriculture Michael Katambo indicated that government is ready to secure international markets for local farmers who are growing various products.
Mr. Katambo noted that his Ministry has observed an increased interest among local farmers to produce a variety of tree crops, fruits and vegetables for export markets.
“The Ministry is in support of this trend and welcomes this development. I therefore wish to inform you that the Ministry of Agriculture is now looking to expand our research and extension service capacity in order to adapt and provide adequate support to all farmers across the country,” Mr. Katambo stated.
The Minister indicated that it was through concerted efforts with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Commerce, Trade and Industry that secured market access for the export of fresh blueberry to China by the Zambezi Berry Company.
Meanwhile, Zambezi Berry Company Proprietor Graham Rae commended government for creating a conducive environment for both large and small scale farmers through favourable policies.
Mr. Rae indicated that these policies have helped shift focus from the country’s dependency on mining to agriculture.
He noted that government has encouraged farmers to diversify in order to be up to date with what is trending on the market, hence creating policies to ensure that the country is food secure.
“During the current leadership, government has called on farmers to diversify and we have seen agricultural production increase and I can assure you that it is one of the future African countries that is food secure. And that is because of good governance policies,” Mr Rae explained.
He applauded government for their support to ensure that his company was able to start exporting fresh blueberry fruits to China, indicating that the efforts have helped the private sector to thrive.
And traditional leadership in the area have assured their support to government policies that have so far birthed positive outcomes as witnessed at the launch of the export of fresh blueberry fruits to China.