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Livestock sector has a lot to offer – Munro

MUSIKA director of strategy Rob Munro says the livestock sector has so much more to offer the economy than it currently does.

Munro said the legume sector was also ripe for expansion and the irrigated crop market is still operating way under potential.

Musika, a Zambian non-profit company that works to stimulate private sector investment in the smallholder market, has been a key partner since the start of Agritech Expo Zambia, the outdoor farming expo which returns for its fifth edition in Chisamba next month (April).

“The livestock sector, especially the smallholder dairy, beef and small livestock markets, have so much more to offer the economy than they currently do. What each of these sectors need is a combined effort of input and technology providers and traders and processors to offer a ‘holistic’ market opportunity to both large and small farmers to make investments in these sectors. In terms of Zambia’s long term agricultural sector growth, the food processing sector has tremendous opportunity to play a key role,” Munro said.

He said the e-FISP initiative was a prime example of the government and the agricultural sector working together for the benefit of all players in the market, and the industry would like to see the same sort of collaboration in the commodity marketing sector.

Asked about the main current challenges in the Zambian agri sector, Munro listed the overdependence on rain-fed grain – and maize in particular – to drive the agricultural sector as well as grain storage.

“Encompassing both issues is the issue of policy. It is critical that the government creates a stable and predictable agricultural policy environment that encourages market diversification and incentivises the sort of long-term investments in production, storage and value addition to allow agriculture to thrive in Zambia,” Munro said according to a statement.

He said there were very positive steps being taken by the government to promote the agriculture market, with lower barriers to export and minimal intervention in the grain markets in 2017 and intentions to use market mechanisms to manage grain stocks in the future, were all welcome and must be encouraged.

And Munro highlighted Musika projects during 2017 as the strong growth in the formal cassava markets of northern Zambia which demonstrates a key tenet of Musika’s philosophy, that the creation of a strong private sector-led market opportunity leads to not only a robust supply response from smallholder farmers but also investment by those farmers in improved varieties and improved land preparation.

He said this would lead to greater productivity and wealth creation in rural communities.

Munro said Musika would this year focus on market opportunities that exist for smallholders around combining agricultural growth and environmental protection and benefit, which includes the role of renewable energy in powering agriculture, and also agroforestry and biofuel and biomass production systems.

He said Musika would also focus on structural market developments that can bring the benefits of transparent, efficient trade to all participants in the agricultural economy.

Munro said it would also ramp up its support to the nascent commodities exchange and also explore opportunities for private investment in transparent, hygienic and efficient wholesaling structures in the fresh fruit and vegetable markets.

The Agritech Expo Zambia returns to GART in Chisamba from April 12-14 and is expected to bring more than 22,000 visitors, over 270 local and international exhibitors with 3500 VIP and large scale farmers and 150 members of the media.

International and country pavilions from France, Germany, Zimbabwe, Czech Republic, Finland and the EU have already been confirmed.

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