Zambia is earmarked to become a mushroom production hub for Africa when a Chinese firm growing the crop locally starts exporting at least 15,000 metric tones daily to Malawi, Tanzania, South and Russia.
The production of mushrooms would be grown under the auspice of Jihai Agriculture Investment and Development Group at the Lusaka East Multi-Facility Economic Zone sitting on a 570,000 hectare piece of land.
Infrastructure worth over US$5 million has so far been put up in the first stage of the Zone.
This came to light in Lusaka today when Information and Broadcasting Services (MIBS) Minister Joseph Katema and his entourage that comprised MIBS Permanent Secretary Bert Mushala other senior government officials toured and inspected the Lusaka East Multi-Facility Economic Zone.
Jihai Agriculture Investment and Development Group Chairman and General Manager Yao Yunwu said Zambia would soon start exporting mushrooms to neigbouring Malawi, Tanzania, South Africa and Russia.
Mushrooms are grown on large scale in China’s Jilin province where Zambia is replicating the project from.
Dr. Yao disclosed that Zambia would produce 15,000 metric tonnes of mushroom on a daily basis to those countries that have been explored.
Dr. Yao said his organisation is contemplating exporting other agro-produce abroad alongside re-cycled agriculture products because there is a direct flight from Lusaka to Dubai.
He further disclosed that his organisation remains committed to supporting small scale mushroom farmers in Zambia so that they became viable and help alleviate poverty in their communities.
He said Zambia is endowed with abundant raw materials including water resources but regrettably not fully utilized to maximum capacity noting that 10 percent of her land is arable.
In response, Information and Broadcasting Services Minister Joseph Katema said Zambia is learning a lot from the super-power China in terms of technological transfer.
Dr. Katema, who is also Chief Government Spokesperson was impressed with what he saw at the economic zone and said that this was the reason why the PF government is diversifying the economy from the ‘traditional practice’ of mining to agriculture.
He said Zambia and China are all weather friends hence share mutual understanding and corporation therefore developing the nation cannot be a big problem.
The Minister however challenged the media to highlight more stories on the Multi- Facility Economic Zones (MFEZ) dotted around the country so that investors could have the required knowledge about Zambia.
The MFEZ is a joint Government programme being spearheaded by Zambia-China Economic and Trade Cooperation Zone that seeks to create a platform for Zambia to achieve economic development by attracting significant domestic and foreign direct investment (FDI) to attain accelerated economic development.
The implementation of MFEZs which are special industrial zones in the country for both export and domestic-oriented industries is designed to make Zambia competitive.
Government through the Ministry of Commerce, Trade and Industry has to date declared six areas as MFEZs and Industrial Parks.
The economic zones include Chambishi, Lusaka East, Lusaka South, Lumwana and Ndola (Sub Saharan gemstones exchange) and Roma in Lusaka as an Industrial Park.