Supporting Local Farmers

Wed, 08 Feb 2017 10:10:33 +0000


THE need for foreign-owned supermarkets to provide ready market for locally grown agricultural produce is the surest way to enable farmers derive maximum benefits from foreign investment.

The disclosure by Agriculture Minister Dora Siliya that Government will engage the owners of foreign-owned supermarkets to provide market for local farmers is long overdue.

“We cannot have a situation where products that could be accessed locally by the supermarkets are being imported from other countries when this is the only way our farmers can benefit from these investments,’’ Minister of Agriculture said.

For far too long local farmers have been deprived of reliable and guaranteed market for their produce because many foreign-owned supermarkets have been allowed to import agricultural produce which can easily be sourced locally.

Why should supermarkets be allowed to import agricultural produce which local farmers can supply to them?

It is actually embarrassing, to say the least, that 52 years after independence Zambians should be subjected to buying and eating agricultural produce from other countries, yet the same are readily available from local farmers.

The importation of vegetables into the country is not the only concern. A few month ago, we highlighted a similar issue of foreign-owned supermarkets importing mangoes even when the fruit was in season.

Why should supermarkets import tomatoes from Tanzania when local farmers are struggling to seek market for their produce? What is Government doing to promote ready market for daily local agricultural produce?

To some extent, we think the status quo reveals lapses in the manner foreign investment agreements have been crafted, and something urgently needs to be done to correct the

It is economically improper to turn a blind eye to such a matter when it is crystal clear that creating market for foreign agricultural produce only works against empowering our local farmers financially, thereby incapable to make significant contribution to the growth of the country’s Gross Domestic Product.

We wonder how many of such foreign-owned supermarkets could be allowed by their respective government authorities to import agricultural produce for sale in the countries where they are domiciled.

Much as the ultimate goal for any viable investment is to reap profits, foreign investment ought to bring with it benefits that accrue to the local people.

And creating market for locally produced agricultural produce benefits the local farmers directly as their standard of living would improve, hence reducing poverty among our people.

Much more so, a deliberate government policy to promote sale of locally produced agricultural products entails diversifying the agriculture sector and indirect job creation as more individuals are likely to engage in

How can local farmers be motivated to meet the demand for different agricultural produce if there is no ready market for them?

Allowing agricultural produce from other countries to flood the market is betraying Government’s resolve to diversify the economy from mining to agriculture.

Therefore, we applaud the intention for the Ministers of Agriculture, Finance and Commerce, Trade and Industry to engage foreign-owned supermarket managements to provide ready market to our local farmers as opposed to them importing tomatoes and other vegetables which are readily available.


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