|Mining & agriculture key for continued development and prosperity|
|Friday, 14 June 2013 11:31|
Since time in memorial, Zambia has been exporting her mineral ores in their raw form. When the developed countries buy the raw minerals, they process them into finished and semi-finished products which are sold back to the country and others at expensive prices.
The Ministry of Commerce, Trade and Industry is this year participating at the 56th Copperbelt, Agricultural and Commercial Show whose theme is “Mining and Agriculture for Continued Development and Prosperity”. This theme has come at the right time when Government through the Ministry is advocating value addition to all local natural resources as opposed to exporting and selling them in their raw form.
To advance the advocacy on value addition, Government through the Ministry is establishing Multi-Facility Economic zones (MFEZs) where processing and manufacturing of products would be done locally. The Chambishi MFEZ is an example where a copper smelter is operational. Some mining companies take their copper ore to the Chambishi smelter for processing before Copper is exported. This has given the mine companies, processing their copper before exporting, value for their copper because they are able to sell at a much higher price than before.
Agriculture is one of the priority sectors and Government is looking at developing Agro-processing plants. Most of Zambia’s population, especially those living in rural areas, depend on farming as an economic activity.
The small scale farmers must consider joining value chain clusters in the areas where they are located. Government is supporting entrepreneurs in value chain clusters by providing support from production stage up to marketing stage. Small scale farmers stand to benefit in many ways by joining clusters, e.g. their products will be branded and properly packaged for selling. This will give the products a competitive age to compete both on the local and regional markets.
The small scale farmers will also be able to sell their products at higher prices as compared to selling the agro-produce in raw form. This means the country’s economy will grow as the small scale farmers will have increased contribution to the country’s GDP, ultimately Zambia will be more prosperous.
If the local products are to compete on the local and international markets successfully, issues of quality and standards must be observed. The Zambia Bureau of Standards (ZABS) must therefore raise awareness to those in value chain clusters to be able to meet the required standards if their products are to penetrate the regional markets.