CHAMBO NGâ€™UNI, Kabwe
FROM having six exhibitors 50 years ago, the Mkushi Agricultural and Commercial Show has grown to host 106 local and foreign exhibitors.
The show has grown and is one of the outstanding shows in Central Province.
Last month, exhibitors from sectors such as agriculture, energy, manufacturing, telecommunication, finance, insurance, health and hospitality participated in the show.
It ran for two days under the theme â€˜Managing the environment for growthâ€™ and it attracted 17,000 people.
The Mkushi Agricultural and Commercial Show Society (MACSS) is elated that the annual event has grown over the years and is able to attract reputable companies from different sectors to exhibit.
MACSS chairman Victor Chisi said that every year the number of exhibitors and show-goers increases.
â€œThe show was a success. The exhibitors were 106 from within and outside Mkushi. The turnout was 80 percent,â€ Mr Chisi said.
â€œInitially, the show was first held in Old Mkushi with only six exhibitors and 60 show-goers, but the show has grown to be one of the best district shows in the country,â€ he said.
The MACSS estimated that 15,000 people would be in attendance but the number of show-goers was 17,000.
Vice-President Inonge Wina was supposed to be in attendance but was represented by Central Province Minister Davies Chisopa.
The event saw Afgri Corporation receive the Chairmanâ€™s Award as well as emerge as the best exhibitor in the machinery and equipment category. The corporation was the second best overall exhibitor.
Stanbic Bank emerged the best overall exhibitor and also emerged the best exhibitor in the financial services category while Zamseed was the third best exhibitor.
Zanaco and First National Bank were the second and third best exhibitors respectively in the financial sector while the Ministry of Agriculture was the best exhibitor in the Government category.
Hazida Motors Limited emerged the best exhibitor in the motor vehicle category, with Vehicles Centre Limited and Toyota emerging second and third respectively.
The Conservation Farming Unit received the best Non-governmental Organisation Award while Spruceland Technologies Group Limited and Zamseed were awarded as best commercial and seed and chemical best exhibitors.
Fipelwa na Lesa Womenâ€™s Club received awards as best womenâ€™s club and best womenâ€™s cooperative exhibitor.
â€œI feel proud that our company has received these awards. This shows that we are helping the community,â€ Afgri Corporation technique director Wimpie Bothina said.
Mr Bothina said Afgri Corporation remains committed to positively contribute to the growth of the agriculture sector in the country.
He said the show is an important forum because over the years it has become a good platform for farmers and companies to showcase their products and services.
â€œThe show offers great opportunities for the exhibitors and the community (to interact). Itâ€™s something that must go on,â€ Mr Bothina stressed.
Mr Lameck Temba, a small-scale farmer of Mkushi who was found at the Afgri Corporation stand admiring the equipment that was on display, commended the MACSS for ensuring that the show is held every year.
Mr Temba, who mainly grows vegetables, was happy to see the agricultural implements that were being exhibited.
â€œMost of these companies that we are seeing here are based in Lusaka but we have seen what they are offering to the agriculture sector,â€ a thrilled Mr Temba said.
He said some companies exhibited irrigation and solar energy equipment which if small-scale farmers were able to buy, they would be able to increase their crop production.
Mr Temba said it is important that small-scale farmers access favourable financing for them to buy equipment.
â€œThrough this show at least we know where to get irrigation equipment which can help small-scale farmers,â€ Mr Temba said.
Mkushi district commissioner Luka Mwamba noted that the agricultural and commercial show is an important annual event where players in different sectors exhibit their products and services.
Mr Mwamba said the show also highlights the potential that Mkushi has as an agricultural hub.
â€œAs in previous years, the community in Mkushi has gone out of its way to make this jubilee show the best ever,â€ Mr Mwamba said.
Mkushi, which hosts many commercial farmers and is called a food basket of the country, is better placed to host a high-profile trade and business fair.
This is, however, not the case because the district does not have a developed showground.
The Mkushi Agricultural and Commercial Show is held in a football pitch where a wire fence is erected during the period of the show to secure the area.
Makeshift stands are erected and the space is inadequate to accommodate the increasing number of exhibitors and show-goers every year.
â€œSome exhibitors who wanted to secure space at the last minute could not be accommodated because of lack of space,â€ Mr Chisi said.
The absence of a developed area to hold the show is also a major setback in transforming the Mkushi Agricultural and Commercial Show into one of the most sought-after unique platforms in the country where exhibitors can interact, create partnerships and market products and services.
â€œThis is why we have been calling for a permanent area where we can develop infrastructure,â€ he said.
With Mkushi District Council promising to provide land, Mr Chisi hopes the MACSS will establish a showground where next yearâ€™s show will be held.
â€œFor us this show is very important, and next year (when the council provides land) we need to have a bigger and more successful show,â€ Mr Bothina said.
Mr Bothina said Afgri Corporation will work with the MACSS for the district show to grow further and attract more exhibitors.
CHAMBO NGâ€™UNI, Kabwe