Ministry of Agriculture Permanent Secretary Sangowayo Zyambo has said, Government is undertaking policy reforms targeted at unlocking growth for specific commodities.
Speaking when he addressed Zambians in the Diaspora during a diaspora-wide digital Town Hall meeting organised by ‘Zambians Together in partnership with the Zambia High Commission UK, Zambian Business Club CIC and the ZamOxbridge, Mr. Zyambo said the Ministry of Agriculture in collaboration with the private sector, and other Co-operating Partners is currently developing Joint Commodity Action Plans, focusing on the 12 commodities such as, Maize, Cassava, Wheat, Onions, Potatoes, Virginia and Burley Tobacco, Cotton, Soya beans, Cashew and Rice.)
Mr. Zyambo urged people living in the diaspora to invest in the production of wheat, saying that the commodity was of strategic importance, thereby providing key input in the production of bread and other confectionaries.
He observed that if properly harnessed, the wheat industry has huge potential to contribute towards job creation, stabilization of the foreign exchange rates as well as enhancing the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
“Wheat production has been fluctuating over the years, mainly because of the unfair competition, limited water resources, poor electricity supply. As a Ministry want to ensure wheat is classified under infant industries in the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA). Maintain 15% excise duty on imported wheat and engage Ministry of Water Development and Environmental Protection to address industry concerns over water permits/user rights,” he said.
Mr. Zyambo said following the decision to stop issuance of export permits to framers, there has been an increase in the prices of potatoes on the local market.
“The Ministry is soon to engage local producers and suppliers to establish the reasons behind the drop in quality and rise in prices for potatoes. It should be noted that the measures in place to protect local producers of onions and potatoes will have adverse effects on product quality and prices in the short term, whereas in the long term will yield improved product quality, and
consistent production and supply,” he said.
Meanwhile, the permanent secretary said the Ministry was in the process of amending the tobacco legislation to provide a conducive environment for private sector investment.
“The legislation governing the tobacco industry needs to be updated to match the changes in the tobacco industry. The lack of recent amendments to the law has affected growth in the industry due to lack of investor confidence as the law is considered to be outdated and archaic and does not provide a conducive environment for private sector investment. Thus, it has become necessary to repeal and replace the Tobacco Act, Cap 237 and the Tobacco Levy Act, Cap 238,” he said.
And National Savings and Credit Bank (NATSAVE) Manager of Strategic Partnerships Gilead Musinga has called on Zambians living abroad to open diaspora bank accounts.
“We are encouraging you to open a diaspora savings account where you will be depositing on a regular basis to save, invest in a project or business venture and open a Commercial account, Natflex or an SME account. Open a Fixed Deposit Account and earn interest or partner with Natsave on projects that are aimed at growing the economy and improving lives of the rural population,” Mr Musinga said.
Speakers at the Town Hall meeting included, Zambia’s High Commissioner to the United Kingdom Lieutenant General Paul Mihova, Bruno Mweemba founder and CEO of Panuka Enterprise Limited (TA Panuka Farm) which is a horticulture and livestock farm focused on high-value vegetable products, Bobby Singh, CEO of Humanity Zambia, a Community Based Organisation (CBO) in Mkushi Zambia and Maria Zaloumis, CEO and Founder of Tuzini Farms and Tuzini Group of Companies.