BWALYA NONDO, Ankara
THE continued investment promotion drive by the Zambian Mission in Turkey has yielded interest among companies in Turkeyâ€™s agricultural hub, Konya, to give a boost to Zambiaâ€™s agrarian revolution.
From biosafety to animal husbandry, crop production to farm mechanisation, and much more, Turkey has the credentials which assure Zambia of deriving immeasurable benefits from the European countryâ€™s agricultural strength besides tapping into other economic sectors.
Indications on the ground are that a number of companies specialising in manufacturing agricultural equipment and spare parts are keen to set up a base in Zambia. Bolstering Zambiaâ€™s agricultural fortunes will give propulsion to advancement towards attaining the Vision 2030 of becoming a middle-income nation.
In charting the course to realise the Vision 2030, the Zambian Government has identified agriculture, as enshrined in the revised Sixth National Development Plan, as one of the key economic sectors to push the country into the middle-income bracket.
With this in mind, and in engaging potential investors in various sectors, Zambiaâ€™s Ambassador to Turkey Miriam Mulenga is also putting the cursor on agriculture.
During her recent tour of Pakpen, an international company that specialises in the manufacture of irrigation pipes and other agricultural devices, Ms Mulenga invited the firm to contribute to Zambiaâ€™s vision of having 17,000 hectares of land under irrigation by 2016, to achieve national food security and export surplus.
Pakpen plant manager Isletmeler Muduru expressed readiness to explore the Zambian market and assured Ms Mulenga of the companyâ€™s commitment to quality and competitive prices.
Ms Mulenga also toured Cayirova, a firm renowned for making agricultural equipment spare parts and tractor trailers, with an export market in 54 countries around the world.
The companyâ€™s interest to enter the Zambian market beamed with clarity after its chief executive officer Nurullah Buyukgicik was enthused by Zambiaâ€™s conducive investment climate and incentives.
Ms Mulenga also visited Agrional, a company which produces sprayer equipment and soil tillers. The firm has been exporting its products to Zambia for the past four years and Ms Mulenga urged the company to increase its exports to meet the demand.
â€œWe are willing to expand business with Zambia and even set up a branch there,â€ intoned Agrional general manager Senol Onal.
The Konya Commodity Exchange, which specialises in buying and selling agricultural produce, equally indicated interest to have a presence in Zambia in crop value-addition.
Board chairperson Muhammet Ugur Kaleli told Ms Mulenga that Zambia has potential to become the bread basket of Africa given the countryâ€™s abundant water resources, among other enabling factors.
While in Konya, Ms Mulenga interacted with local chambers of commerce and industry and encouraged them to mobilise Turkish industrialists to exhibit at the annual Zambia International Trade Fair in Ndola, and the Zambia Agricultural and Commercial Show in Lusaka, for them to identify possible business partners in the country.
And during her tour of Turkeyâ€™s third largest commercial city, Izmire, city Governor Mustafa Toprak implored Zambia to strengthen the value-addition industry to accelerate economic growth and create jobs.
â€œWe need to see more exports from Zambia as relations between our two countries continue to grow. It is important that value addition to your raw materials is considered,â€ enjoined Mr Toprak when Ms Mulenga called on him.
The city of Izmire has 12 designated industrial zones and two free zones with a total of 5,000 factories, and a US$10 billion export potential in sectors ranging from manufacturing to textiles, auto mobiles to agricultural products, and information technology to marble, among others.
Izmire also receives an average of three million tourists who are attracted to Ephesus, a historical site where Mary (Jesusâ€™ mother) lived during the last eight years of her life on earth.
Ms Mulenga noted that it is Zambiaâ€™s desire to tap into the economic strength of Turkey. She commended the Turkish Government for showing interest in developing the Zambia/Turkey corridor aimed at enhancing development co-operation between the two nations.
Ms Mulenga also interacted with the Izmire Chamber of Commerce and the Aegean Region Chamber of Industry with both entities calling for expansion of trade and economic collaboration between Zambia and Turkey.
On the tourism front, the Association of Turkish Travel Agencies (TURSAB) rated Zambia as one of the prime tourism destinations in the world, and expressed readiness to undertake a â€œfarm-tourâ€ that will enable the organisation to effectively market Zambia to potential Turkish tourists.
TURSAB members indicated willingness to assist Zambia to market its tourism attractions. It was regretted though that while Zambia is a prime destination, lack of information has made it difficult for potential tourists from Turkey to explore the country.
The association commended the Zambian Mission in Turkey for mounting an information campaign to sell Zambia to the world as a tourism destination.
TURSAB members noted that as a country that enjoys incomparable peace and political stability in Africa coupled with a pristine tourism landscape, Zambia deserves increased tourist flows.
The sentiments were expressed following a tourism presentation session at which Ms Mulenga showcased Zambiaâ€™s tourism potential to TURSAB in Izmir alongside investment promotion in general.Â This was done through a paper presentation followed by a video show and distribution of tourism materials on Zambia.
With this, it is hoped that the Zambian Mission in Ankara will significantly contribute to efforts aimed at raising the bar of tourist arrivals to at least one million or more per annum.
â€œIam confident that like an eagle with far reaching sight, and unquenchable resilience, we will make Zambia the most preferred tourism and investment destination,â€ asserted Ms Mulenga.
The author is Deputy Head of Mission at the Zambian Embassy in Ankara, Turkey.
BWALYA NONDO, Ankara