Editor's Comment

Mines’ threat another reminder

THE recent threat by the mines to throw thousands of workers on the streets in reaction to the implementation of the new mine taxes is a reason why the economic diversification agenda must succeed.
The country’s dependence on mining sometimes poses a serious challenge to the desired economic growth when it comes to the application of taxes.
Mining has for a long time been the goose which has been laying the golden eggs.
However, over-reliance on mining has taught the country lessons from which to make informed decisions.
Apart from the stand-off over taxes with the mines, the prices of minerals, especially copper, have been affected during the economic meltdown.
Metals markets are victims of the financial crisis.
Given this vulnerability, Government made a wise decision to diversify the economy by prioritising other sectors such as agriculture, tourism and manufacturing.
In fact, the country’s development hinges on diversification of the economy. This entails developing new areas of production and export.
It is acknowledged that the agriculture sector offers the country the best prospects for diversification.
This is because the country’s soils are fertile to grow virtually every crop while the weather is also favourable for cultivation of several crops.
But Zambia has depended on maize growing for a long time. It is good though that there are clear signs of increased cultivation of soya beans, cotton, groundnuts, rice, wheat, millet, sunflower, sugar cane and cashew.
The cultivation of cash crops has potential for growth and employment creation as well as poverty reduction.
Despite the noted increase in the cultivation of the cash crops, there is need to expand their production.
The country should start looking at its competitive advantage of producing these crops which have a growing global demand.
When Zambia begins to meet global demand, it will translate into earning foreign exchange for the country and increasing income for producers in these subsectors.
While the will to increase demand for certain crops may be there, capacity could be lacking.
It is therefore commendable that Government has identified the lack of capacity internally.
That is why Government has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Egypt. The pact is aimed at bolstering Zambia’s agriculture, fish and livestock sectors.
The Zambia Correctional Service (ZCS) is implementing the project.
Zambia and Egypt have been running a joint farm project in Mwembeshi. The MoU will enhance the ongoing collaboration between the two governments.
Under the MoU, Zambia will send its people to Egypt to learn best agricultural practices.
The people who will go to Egypt to learn best practices are expected to come back and in turn train their compatriots.
This joint farm venture will also benefit inmates and transform their lives so that on completion of their jail terms, they can be productive members of society.
Minister of Home Affairs Stephen Kampyongo said the MoU is very important to Government because it will help create jobs for the youths.
Government should take advantage of the booming youth unemployed population and use their energy for agricultural production.
Mr Kampyongo aptly put it that youth unemployment has potential to cause civil strife.
There is no need to keep youths on the streets given the abundant fertile land and water bodies this country has.
We can feed the region and export to a lot of countries around the world in need of food.
With the signing of the MoU done by the representatives of the two governments, Zambia should ensure that the deal comes to fruition.
Zambia may not be the only country Egypt will sign such agreements with. So, the onus is on the Ministry of Home Affairs to ensure that this deal is followed through.

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