Editor's Comment

The fruit can be a game changer

WHEN Government announced the creation of the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC), critics went to town claiming it would be a white elephant.For most people, the IDC mimicked the defunct Zambia Industrial Development Corporation (ZIMCO) under the UNIP government.
Little did people understand that the IDC under a liberalised set-up would be the stimulant for the parastatal sector.
It has played its hindsight and foresight role effectively in re-aligning the operations of the parastatal bodies, giving life to those which were in the figurative intensive care unit and further boosting the profitable-making entities.
But IDC has not ended at that: it has invested in research and development as well as resource mobilisation.
A case in point of resource mobilisation is US$4 million that the IDC has pooled to set up a pineapple processing plant and an out-grower scheme in Mwinilunga, North-Western Province, one of the poorest regions of the country.
IDC chief executive officer Mateyo Kaluba said the board of directors has approved the establishment of a pineapple processing plant in Mwinilunga.
The plant, which will have capacity to process three metric tonnes of pineapples every day, will fill the value addition void.
While pineapples have been grown in North-Western Province for a long time, some, if not most, of the crop went to waste as a result of not having a processing plant as an off-taker.
It is good, therefore, that the IDC has invested in value addition, which has been the cry for long.
The pineapple industry will add value to the food chain in line with the Seventh National Development Plan.
The processing plant will boost pineapple production as farmers will have a ready market unlike the current scenario where they only waited for buyers from the urban areas.
The IDC investment is also a signal of formalisation of the pineapple industry which has been informal for many years.
Finally, Mwinilunga, an impoverished town, should become an industrial town anchored on pineapple production, just like Mazabuka’s economy is powered by sugar cane cultivation.
It will contribute to the growth of the economy in the town as direct and indirect jobs will be created from spin-off activities.
Directly the project will support about 3,000 pineapple farmers in the first three years and create 100 permanent jobs and 8,000 indirect jobs for the local people.
The 100 permanent and 8,000 indirect jobs will multiply as the employees will also seek helpers and increase the chain of beneficiaries.
The processing plant will also benefit suppliers. The pineapple industry investment will add value to the food
The ever-growing supermarket chains must support the pineapple industry by buying the locally manufactured product and save the foreign currency.
The challenge is also on those adding value to the fruit to ensure that the quality meets both local and international standards.
Beyond satisfying the local market, the goal should be to flood the Southern African Development Community as well as the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa markets.
Zambia should also take advantage of the various bilateral and multilateral agreements to further expand the market.
Pineapples can be a game changer for Mwinilunga, the province and beyond.

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