KELLY NJOMBO, Lusaka
THE Zambia Development Agency (ZDA) says the country needs to identify and utilise potential international markets to increase agricultural exports and foreign direct investment (FDI).
ZDA manager for export development Albert Halwampa said the international market creates an opportunity for farmers and local producers to export their produce thereby, generating income as well as foreign exchange.
In an interview recently, Mr Halwampa said most farmers are not maximising their potential to increase production due to lack of access to both local and international markets.
He said linking Zambian farmers to markets through out-grower schemes, could also help improve the quality and quantity of supply and spur long-term agricultural growth.
â€œZambiaâ€™s agricultural potential remains largely untapped despite the opportunities to export on the international market. Zambian farmers and producers need to identify global markets to enable them expand production of various agricultural produce that will be able to tap the international market and earn the country FDI,â€ he said.
Mr Halwampa said there is need to improve market research, both on the local and international markets, if the country is to know which crops have a better chance to compete on the global market.
He said targeting diversification in agricultural production will not be sufficient without improving market information and promoting linkages between farmers and other participants in value chains.
Mr Halwampa said improving market information will enable smallholder farmers conduct agriculture as a business and contribute fully to economic development and poverty reduction.
He, however, said it is important for the country to diversify its exports to cash crops that have the potential to earn foreign exchange.
â€œThere are a lot of other cash crops that could compete on the international market to earn the country the much needed income. We shouldnâ€™t just depend on copper especially, that its prices have recently been going down,â€ he said.
KELLY NJOMBO, Lusaka