KABANDA CHULU, Lusaka
GOVERNMENT should continuously engage farmers on policy formulation in the agriculture sector to avoid punitive levies and taxes that affect the growth of the industry.
Zambia National Farmers Union (ZNFU) president Jervis Zimba said in an interview on Tuesday that Zambia can feed sub-Saharan Africa since it has a competitive advantage to other countries.
“We are the only stable country in terms of politics and security, and we need to take advantage of this.
“We have been receiving adequate rainfall and the climatic conditions are conducive, but the major issue is the cost of production that is becoming higher and higher and the returns are becoming minimal,” Mr Zimba said.
Various taxes have been introduced such as electricity tariffs, which have increased, road taxes, council levies, labour costs, and fuel levy is charged even for off-road equipment such as tractors and combined harvesters, among other things.
Mr Zimba said farmers have no control over the prices and their returns are diminishing.
“…We have always told Government, if you want agriculture to be the mainstay of the economy, then the first thing they need to do is instead of putting this tax and that tax, they just need to zero-rate agriculture completely.
“If there is a zero rate on agriculture for a couple of years, we will see investments coming through. We are hoping that in the next budget, perhaps, they can lend us an ear since it is for the good of the country,” he said.
He said Zambia is being used as a dumping ground for most of the products from other countries.
“There is need to level the playing field that is desirable because some produce enter the country duty-free, but similar items when grown locally, taxes are charged, how do we compete?” Mr Zimba asked.