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Encourage non-mining economic activities, says Nguleka

KABANDA CHULU, Lusaka
ZAMBIA National Farmers Union (ZNFU) president Evelyn Nguleka has urged Government to urgently encourage non-mining economic activities to create jobs and generate foreign exchange.
Dr Nguleka said the current national economic challenges highlight Zambia’s vulnerability due to dependence on the mining industry as the main contributor to foreign exchange earnings.
In an interview at the just-ended 110th ZNFU Congress held under the theme ‘Growth through Agri-finance and Technology’, she said, “Agriculture becomes the obvious alternative to mining for inclusive growth as a generator of jobs, economic activity and exports.
“In addition, agriculture exploits a sustainable resource while mining exploits a depleting resource. Unlike mining, switching commodities is commonly practised in farming without huge capital equipment changes.”
Dr Nguleka said Zambian agriculture has huge potential hence the need to promote productivity through farm mechanisation and improved farming methods.
“Unfortunately, agriculture remains a sleeping giant, to awaken this giant, our Government must encourage and incentivise the sector by reducing the high cost of farming in the country, and this will lower the cost of food and make Zambian agricultural products competitive in the export market,” she said.
She suggested that Government should set up a high-level Taskforce that should operate as if the country is on a ‘war footing’ to address the current economic challenges and its negative impact on agriculture.
“This Taskforce which should comprise [officials from] Government, ZNFU, banks, cooperating partners and other stakeholders, must move swiftly to identify laws, regulations, taxes that add to the cost of farming and make Zambian agriculture uncompetitive.
“The Taskforce should identify what needs to be done to improve quality and productivity and possibly identify how to mobilise funds for this effort when Government resource packet is contracting,” Dr Nguleka said.