The Zambia Cooperative Federation (ZCF) says the domestication of the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) is an opportunity for both small and commercial farmers in the country to access the ready market.
ZCF Director-General James Chirwa said Zambia has the capacity to produce various agricultural products that can be exported across the African continent.
Mr. Chirwa explained that the time has come for farmers not to depend on the Food Reserve Agency (FRA) to buy their maize grains but to produce for the over 1.2 billion people across the continent.
ZANIS reports that the ZCF Director-General said farmers should grow more crops and add value to their businesses if their livelihoods were to change for the better.
“The domestication of the Africa Free Continental Trade Area by the government is an indication that as farmers, we now have an open market for various goods and services.
For Example, we can grow more maize in the Southern and Eastern provinces as well as enough pineapples in the North-Western and more fish from Northern and Luapula province which can be exported across Africa and make money for our livelihoods,” he said.
And Mr. Chirwa has suggested that government should come up with an industrial development fund that will support small-scale farmers in the production of various crops.
He explained that government can retain the 30 percent shares in the fund during the loan period and later wean off the farmers.
He noted that apportioning certain shares to the government will reduce defaults in remitting the loans and also provide room for technical advice and sourcing of the markets.
Zambia deposited the instruments and accession documents of the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) following parliamentary ratification.
The instruments were deposited to the African Union Commission in Addis Ababa by Zambia’s Ambassador to Ethiopia and Permanent Representative to the African Union Emmanuel Mwamba, on behalf of Minister of Foreign Affairs Joseph Malanji on 5th February 2021.
Zambia signed the declaration in Kigali Rwanda in 2018 and the agreement in February 2020.
On 4th February 2021, Zambia’s parliament ratified the AfCFTA agreement.