Free Trade Zones

Zambia pushes for innovation in agriculture to accelerate food security

By Jeff Kapembwa

ZAMBIA’s hosting of 4e The African Union mid-year summit held in the capital Lusaka last July was titled: “Building Resilience in Nutrition and Food Security on the African Continent” has inspired a call for innovative technologies and has become the backbone of sustainable food security.

Inspired by the resolutions of the summits of African Heads of State and Government in Malabo, the capital of Equatorial Guinea, since 2003 to date, coupled with the theme of the African Union meeting, Zambia wants to strengthen production in using innovations and becoming the food basket of the continent.

At the Malabo meetings, one of Africa’s driving resolutions is to jointly identify and prepare bankable projects at the national and regional levels, through the RECs in food and agriculture and to engage in mobilizing resources to implement them, and to invest in sectors essential to agricultural growth. and development.

President Hakainde Hichilema had, during the mid-year meeting of the AU from July 17 to 20, stressed the need for Africa to lead and own a program to meet the aspirations of Agenda 2063. This is despite widespread disruptions from climate change, the COVID-19 pandemic and the war in Ukraine.

To cope with climate change and other shocks, urges Africa to foster innovation in Member States and consider signing and ratifying the African Risk Capacity Treaty and opening channels of assistance for planning, preparing for and responding to these shocks in a rapid and cost-effective manner and repairing food insecurity.

“We must increase productivity levels in agriculture, emphasize value addition through agribusiness, accelerate research in agriculture, emphasize and increase support for rural farmers whose livelihoods depend mainly on agriculture”. he said in his address to delegates while calling for reliable transport connectivity

Zambian Ministers of Livestock and Fisheries Makozo Chikote and Agriculture Reuben Mtolo share a common vision; improve and maximize technological innovations induced in the country to insulate the country from climate change, COVID 19 and other related calamities that have forced the economic downturn since 2020.

Zambia’s annual fish deficit averages 87,000 metric tons with the country’s production capacity exceeding 100,000 metric tons (mt), with about 85,000 mt coming from capture fisheries while the fishing sector aquaculture, currently in its infancy, and contributes about 30,000 m

Innovative practices include conservative fish farming to reduce increased post-harvest losses and discourage poor fishing methods through the use of snares. Zambia encourages women and children in coastal and inland areas to be active in enhancing food security.

“I’m impressed with the innovation and we have a test to bring the technology to small rural farmers and increase food security, but we need to work with everyone in the sector to ask for livestock.” Minister Chikote said recently after visiting the 94e Agriculture and Trade Show in Lusaka.

And Agriculture Minister Mtolo said Zambia had adopted a “smart technology investment” initiative to boost food production by setting up agricultural processing factories in all 107 districts and 10 provinces to to encourage value addition and maximize returns from “value added export products”.

Zambia is encouraged to grow and harvest tomatoes, pineapples, mangoes, groundnuts, among other products, although hampered by the lack of agricultural processing factories in the country, resulting in waste that contradicts the vision of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) to improve reliability. markets for all Member States, 46 of which have now ratified the treaty implemented last year.

On July 28, President Hichilema ordered the K130 million (USD 810,000) multi-fruit processing from Kalene Hills Fruit Factory in northwestern Zambia. It will process a variety of fruits and other agricultural products such as beans, peanuts and tomatoes using smallholder farmers as suppliers to ultimately encourage value addition.

In April 2022, the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa, in collaboration with the African Development Bank (AfDB) and the United Nations Economic Organization for Africa, sought to establish a joint agro-industrial park to increase the availability of industrial goods and services for bilateral trade. market and develop intra-regional trade in manufactured goods.

The industrial park which will be partially located on either side of the border, will help develop industrialists seeking to acquire ownership and management of industries. It is hoped to prioritize the processing of value chains such as cotton, maize, wheat, rice, soybeans, sugar, livestock (leather and dairy) and horticulture.

The sectors provide extensive links with the manufacturing sector, especially in the processed food sub-sector, which is essential in promoting industrial activities for the development of skills and knowledge in the industries, strengthens collaboration and strengthens networking between the policy makers, regulators, industry and academia.

The project is aligned with the COMESA Industrial Strategy, which Member States have adopted and are creating a diversified, environmentally friendly and globally competitive industrial sector, based on innovation and manufacturing as tools for transforming regional resources into lasting wealth and prosperity for all.

The project aims to encourage the establishment of Special Economic Zones (SEZs) and harness their potential, and then use them as hubs for regional and sub-regional markets and input supply, said the Deputy Secretary General of the Comesa, Dr. Kipyego Cheluget.

The African Union is wary of the effects of food insecurity on the continent and calls for the mobilization of massive investments for substantial agricultural production in Africa, says its president, Macky Sall, also Senegalese president.

“It is urgent that we win the battle for food security to settle an existential question and meet a challenge of dignity for our continent.