–An entrepreneur in Solwezi says business linkages in the rice industry will help to unlock the economic potential needed to alleviate poverty in rural communities.
Yambeeji Rice Company of Zambezi district Chief Executive Officer, Chilala Chibbonta, said in Solwezi today during a field day for rice farmers in Kabanzhi area that rice production in the region has a huge economic value if it is well harnessed.
Mr Chibbonta said local rice farmers need to establish partnerships with possible financiers who should invest in machinery and strengthen capacity of the farmers in order to boost production.
He noted that business linkages have been the missing link in the industry which has affected the performance of the sector in the province.
Mr Chibbonta, who has been working with the local rice farmers in the area, said a lot of rice farmers do not know where to find the market for their crop and as a result they feel discouraged.
He urged farmers to take the mining investment in the region as an opportunity to develop business partnerships and enhance their welfare instead of just depending on them for employment.
Kabanzhi Rice lead farmer, Lewis Sangabukila, said rice farmers face a lot of challenges because they lack equipment and depend on a polishing machine at Maheba Refugee Camp which is 50 kilometres from their farms.
Mr Sangabukila said there are about 30 rice farmers at Kabanzhi who need the support of government to expand the rice industry in the province.
And National Savings and Credit Bank regional manager, Shepherd Mafu, said the bank is ready to partner with farmers and provide the support that will enhance their production.
Mr Mafu said the bank has identified itself with the needs of farmers and would want to see that rural communities improve their livelihoods.