Workers tend to the maize crops on Millers Farm Lusaka, in Zambia, March 17, 2003. An initiative from the International Fund for Agricultural development helps female farmers in Zambia with HIV raise goats. Salim Henry:AP:File

GOVERNMENT will maintain the policy of allowing local farmers to export their agricultural produce, Agriculture and Livestock Minister, Wylbur Simuusa has said. Mr Simuusa said government had made a decision to keep the borders open to all farmers who wanted to export their crops as a way of operating an open border policy following their cry recently. In a Statement issued yesterday by South Africa’s High Commission Press Secretary, Nicky Shabolyo, the Minister said during a panel discussion at the Second Agri-Business Summit in Johannesburg on Tuesday that his government would always maintain dialogue with farmers.

Mr Simuusa has also invited South African investors to come to Zambia and consider putting up a pineapple processing plant. “When I visited pineapple growers in Zambia, they told me the area had great potential for pineapple growing and that the market was readily available. And from our assessment, that is correct. If any of you feels they want to invest in a pineapple factory, please come through, you are welcome,” he said. Mr Simuusa said Zambia had other various types of citrus fruit, such as mangoes, to which more value could be added by processing them into other products.

He also called for stronger regional integration if individual countries were to see progress in the agricultural sector adding that Zambia and South Africa had unique advantages which could result in remarkable benefits if the two countries forge closer collaboration. “Zambia and South Africa have close historical ties and if only we can make this marriage between the two work, we can make an impact that will surprise the world. If we can take advantage of the opportunities that lie in the two countries,” he said. Mr Simuusa said Zambia had a huge market and offered a good investment climate, while South Africa also had huge financial and human capital.

He said over 80 per cent of the population in Zambia depended on rain-fed agriculture an indication that there was potential for investment in irrigation and fish farming. Director for Commodity Derivatives at the Johannesburg Stock Exchange, Chris Sturgess speaking at the same function dubbed “Agribusiness Trade Opportunities in Africa”, commended the Zambian Government for allowing free exports to farmers. “This decision to allow farmers to export their produce will give confidence to the private sector who will be assured that they will have a ready market when they decide to invest in Zambia,” Mr Sturgess said.

Times of Zambia