Editor's Comment

Zamanita rebirth crucial

THE relaunch of the US$35 million Zamanita cooking oil processing plant, which closed in 2018, is good news for every Zambian as it has potential to inject more life into the economy.
It is good that the rebirth of the gigantic plant comes at a time that the country is rebuilding after going through a tough economic year, last year, due to various factors, and major among them the power deficit.
The country witnessed closure of some companies, especially smaller ones that could not stand the impact of the power deficit.
It is, however, heartening that the year has started on a positive note with such huge investments that have great potential to positively impact the country’s economy.
It is comforting that two years after many Zambians were left hopeless after Cargill closed the Zamanita factory, Export Trading Group (ETG) and Parrogate Group of Companies has come on board with an investment that has potential to create an indelible mark on the country’s industrialisation agenda.
The rebirth of Zamanita no doubt tags along huge benefits for citizens and the country as a whole.
As rightly noted by President Edgar Lungu during the launch, the factory presents an opportunity to the country to increase its non-traditional exports, particularly that oil-cake, and other solid residues of soya beans are already among the major non-traditional exports.
The investment by Export Trading Group (ETG) and Parrogate Group of Companies places Zambia in a more strategic and advantageous position to be a major exporter of edible oils and other products of soya beans, maize and cotton.
Zambia has the advantage of being richly endowed with natural resources required for production.
For instance, it is indisputable that Zambia has abundant groundnuts, sunflower and soya beans, which are key raw materials for producing edible oils.
Affordable labour is also readily available for high productivity. Besides, Zambia is one of the few countries across the globe with the best investment policies.
The country has the right investment environment for the project to bear fruit.
There is therefore need for both the investors and local people to work together to ensure that the factory succeeds.
It will take both investors and Zambians to ensure that maximum benefits are derived from the investment.
The closure by Cargil should provide lessons on the pitfalls and how to avoid them.
It is the responsibility of those who will be vested with responsibility to manage the company to ensure that the company thrives for the benefit of all stakeholders.
For a country that has high unemployment levels, such investments should be embraced and supported by all.
It is encouraging that from the investment, over 500 direct and 1,500 indirect jobs will be created at the Zamanita plant.
It is also good that the group is already on the ground and has so far sourced over 75,000 and 30,000 metric tonnes of soya and maize respectively from farmers and is directly working with about 80,000 smallholder farmers in the cotton value chain.
The project has provided a huge market for small-scale farmers who mostly face challenges to sell their produce.
It is good that farmers will have a readily available market for their produce. This will subsequently improve their livelihoods and reduce poverty levels.
This should also encourage farmers to grow more soya beans and maize because of the availability of the market.
Apart from creating jobs and stimulating the agriculture sector growth, the investment provides the country with an opportunity to earn the much-needed foreign exchange for economic growth.
It is hoped that all stakeholders will work together to safeguard the company from collapsing and ensure that it produces intended results for the benefit of the country as a whole.

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