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.”