‘Zambia’s agro sector offers prospects’

FARMERS in Zambia have the capacity to become leading players in the regional marketplace due to the vast opportunities for agriculture, Zambeef Products joint-chief executive officer Carl Irwin has said.
Addressing delegates to the Zambia Finance and Investment euromoney conference last week, Mr Irwin said the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) regions represent agricultural opportunities that investors could consider tapping into.
“There are 460 million people in SADC and COMESA and we need to ensure our industry is competitive in this market. Zambian agriculture is the envy of many countries in Africa and around the world in that we are self-sufficient in many agricultural products, including beef, milk, chickens, eggs and soyabean. This is a huge credit to the country’s agriculture sector,” said Dr Irwin.
He said improvements in infrastructure, particularly roads and telecommunications in the last 20 years, have also contributed to strengthening the agriculture sector.
“[It has] helped Zambeef make the national supply chain more efficient… The most important thing is creating the market, and if you do that, you will see the supply follow. The agriculture sector reacts quickly when the market is created [and] the critical thing is creating this market,” Mr Irwin said.
He said the small-scale farmers are the backbone of the agriculture sector hence have an important role to play.
He said with half the population of Zambia relying on agriculture, the sector is the largest employer of people and vital to the economy.
“The country’s abundant water, fertile soils and conducive climate have enabled Zambian farmers to have a competitive advantage, and Zambeef’s extensive retailing and distribution network links them to markets and gives them the potential to supply the region,” Mr Irwin said.

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