Tuesday, June 25, 2024

Musokotwane sees huge demand for agriculture products as an opportunity for economic growth in Zambia

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Minister of Finance and National Planning Dr. Situmbeko Musokotwane says the challenge of huge demand for grain and other agriculture products from the region that Zambia is currently battling with is an opportunity for economic growth.

Dr. Musokotwane said the high demand for grain such as maize has caused mealie meal prices in Zambia to rise and negatively affect the people.

He said there is a need for Zambia to quickly produce larger agricultural surpluses that can be exported.

Dr. Musokotwane said producing more food and export to the countries in need will earn Zambia dollars and create jobs.

He added that some of the food will be produced by the existing small, medium and commercial farmers.

Dr. Musokotwane observed that the export market is so huge that it is necessary to bring in extra skills and capital in Zambia.

He said the Government is working on various initiatives to unlock higher economic growth.

“Our projection for real GDP growth in 2022 was 3.1 percent. The outturn, based on preliminary estimates from the Zambia Statistics Agency, is much higher growth of 4.7 percent. Growth was driven by the ICT, transport and education sectors. Growth was however subdued in key sectors such as agriculture, mining, tourism and manufacturing.As I always state, we must aspire for much higher growth, year after year. It is only when the economy is growing, preferably in double digits that the growth can have a meaningful impact on job creation, poverty reduction, and improvements in the lives of the people,” Dr. Musokotwane said.

“Government is working on various initiatives to unlock this higher growth. Let me give a few examples.Farm block development in agriculture. You will recall that this is an initiative to improve agricultural production in the country both in raw products and in the value-added agricultural products. In simple terms, it is about introducing many models like Nakambala Sugar in the
blocks except that the products in question need not necessarily be sugar but something else. In this model, large scale as well as small scale producers will work together to produce material for a processing factory,” he said.

Dr. Musokotwane said the government has heightened security against illegal exports.

‘The need to quickly produce larger agricultural surpluses has never been greater. Currently, our country is faced with the challenge of huge demand of grain and other products from the region. This demand has caused mealie meal prices in Zambia to rise and affect our people.In the immediate response, the government heightened security against illegal exports.Also, the government encouraged the local private sector to import mealie meal from other surplus countries for sale at border areas in those towns that are next to countries with deficit food availability.But we all know that the ultimate solution to the food deficits in the regional should be a sweet one for Zambia: let us produce more food and export to the countries in need. This will earn dollars and create jobs. Some of the food will be produced by our existing small, medium and commercial farmers. However, the export market is so huge that it is necessary to bring in extra skills and capital,” he said.

Dr. Musokotwane continued:”The farm blocks have been designed for this purpose.The implemention plans for the farm blocks are nearly ready. The money to establish the blocks is there. Within a few months, work will start. In parallel, the marketing of the farm blocks starts soon.The Government will also soon finalize formulation of the Comprehensive Agriculture Transformation Programme (CATP). The National Crop Diversification Strategy is also being developed to enhance production and productivity of a diverse range of agricultural commodities and products. As I mentioned the sources of economic growth in 2022, I did indicate that the mining sector was not one of the key drivers. Yet the government wants this sector to be one of the key drivers for growth in line with our ambition to attain copper production of three million tons per year.”

9 COMMENTS

  1. Agriculture has the ability to earn as much Forex as Copper in a much straight forward manner. Zambian owned Agri businesses must be given priority over foreign based companies in these initiatives. The danger of foreign firms is they externalise the Forex earned from exports. But in doing so don’t disadvantage the small scale farmer, when you formulate your policies try not to only consider commercial farmers, these commercial farmers are already well off some even own planes and lots of machinery yet their workers remain in poverty, where has the wealth gone? Allow small scale farmers to export and we will have a win win situation. A small scale farmer will always bring back that Forex to Zambia, whereas these commercial farmers send that money abroad.

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  2. Is he just opening his eyes now? Where does he think the tonnes he misexported come from?
    Strategy is the key otherwise you may overgrow for the waste dump.

  3. He has now become the Minister of Agriculture….We will never develop if we have these old men as leaders….We need fresh and young leaders…these old leaders all they do is just make speeches and doctors approve…

  4. The 2023 budget of K167 billion was supposed to be the turning point from mining reliance to farming.
    3 million tonnes of estimated copper output attracted a huge tax holiday to miners. What was maize output forecast? None. How much tax incentive was placed on agricultural activities? Is the minister admitting that the 7% money amounting to K11bn budget too little? Agricultural market is very wide; without strategy, it won’t be exploited. Farm blocks are a good initiative. We formed MFEZ in Lusaka and Copperbelt without production feeder stocks like farm blocks. Agriculture is the realistic future.

  5. Most likely under New Dawn Government there shall be more economic common sense. We should not complain perpetually about the maize smuggling when it is paid for at a good price that farmers are denied when it leaves the country. Instead we should invest in the sector so that we produce more. We should stop this rubbish of thinking that if we invest in agriculture people from Southern Province will become richer.

  6. To jump start the economy, Hon. Musokotwane looked to revive the 2002 farm blocks initiative: a Mwanawasa brain child. World bank last year, provided $30 million to each of our 10-province blocks development project. (Total of $300m). Nakambala is just an example here and can’t be used to mean he is developing SP at expense of other areas.
    The UPND wants private ownership like Zambia Sugar, Mansa Sugar, Mpongwe Farms, etc. to take control.

  7. Yesterday I went to buy dollars from my local bank – nothing. Today went back nothing. They said BOZ is restricting sake of usd. It seems there is a shortage as there have been no inflows and our reserves have been depleted in trying to stabilize the exchange rate. Please bring back Magande.

  8. You need to invest more in the small scale farmers by providing them with the extension service & Agriculture research support more manpower is needed. Otherwise more production will always be talk without any implementation in providing the necessary tools & technical support small scale farmers desperately need inorder to produce more maize which accounts for 80% of the production.

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