Minister of Youth and Sport Chishimba Kambwili has ‘diversified’ his visit to Cuba from restricting himself to sports development issues to youth empowerment possibilities.
Mr. Kambwili took advantage of his tour of duty in Cuba to meet Cuba Sugar Agri-industry officials whom he asked to provide technical assistance to Zambia’s drive to set up youth farms in provinces.
He said the Ministry of Youth and Sport has a programme of setting up youth farms that will make them economically empowered while contributing to the economic growth of the country.
He said the setting up of these farms required technical guidance from a country such as Cuba which has a strong sugar industry.
The minister said a joint venture arrangement could be entered into between the Zambian government and the sugar industry in Cuba since both countries have limited financial stamina to undertake stand alone prokects.
Currently, Zambia has three sugar producing companies namely Zambia Sugar through Nakambala estates in Mazabuka, Kafue Sugar in Kafue and Luena Sugar in Northern Zambia.
These sugar producing companies can be buying sugar cane from the youth farms as they do from farmers under the out-grower schemes.
And Cuba Sugar Agro-Industry Director of International Relations Rafael Rivacoba said the sugar producing companies in that country were excited about Zambia’s invitation to provide technical support in setting up youth farms.
Mr. Rivacoba said the sugar industry can also help in finding partners to invest in the same sector in Zambia.
He said the Cuban sugar industry, which was the number one sugar exporter in the world at one time, had dwindled due to trade sanctions which he said were done mainly out of malice to stifle the economy of that country.
Mr. Kambwili was invited to Cuba by the Cuba Institute of Sports and Recreation with the aim of revitalizing the sports cooperation agreement which was signed between governments of the two countries in 2007.
He is accompanied to Cuba by Ministry of Youth and Sport Permanent Secretary, Agnes Musunga, Chief Sports Development Officer in the same ministry Gibson Muyaule, National Sports Council of Zambia Chairperson, Chifumu Banda and chairperson of the parliamentary committee on youth affairs and sport, Levy Ngoma who is also Sinda Member of Parliament.
Youth empowerment is one of the priorities spelled out in the Patriotic Front (PF) government’s development agenda.