‘Invest more in agro sector’

THE Bankers Association of Zambia (BAZ) says Government needs to invest more in the agriculture sector in view of challenges in the mining industry to cushion the impact on the economy.
Currently, Zambia is facing an impasse with the mining sector following the increase in mineral royalty tax to 20 percent from six percent for open-cast mining operations.
BAZ chairperson Clergy Simatyaba said farmers need support from both Government and the private sector through various mediums such as inputs supply, provision of finance and market for their commodity.
Mr Simatyaba said in an interview recently that although the banking sector is playing its role by providing finance through various government agencies to the farmers and by working with the Zambia National Farmers Union (ZNFU), it needs to do more to contribute meaningfully to the economy.
“Going forward, with the challenges happening in the mining sector, it is prudent that the agriculture sector is strengthened. We remain committed to continue supporting the sector because it has the potential to be the country’s major export earner.
“The agriculture sector makes a big contribution to the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) and the national economy, hence the need to support it,” he said.
Mr Simatyaba also called on banks to have specialised skills in the agriculture sector because at the moment there are few institutions with such skills tailored for farmers.
On the kwacha performance, he said one of the factors that have affected the depreciation of the currency is the strong United States (US) dollar due to the better economic performance in  America.
Mr Simatyaba urged the public not to panic as the Bank of Zambia is working on sustaining the monetary policy.
He said BAZ will not support speculations on the local unit that might cause panic among the public as there are external factors at play.
“[On the issue of] the currency, always understand that we are part of the global economy, and the currency competes freely with other currencies. There are times when a global economy factor happening will affect our currency,” he said.

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