YOTAM Mtayachalo says the continued importation of agriculture products into the country such as rice is affecting the growth of the sector in the country.
In a statement, Mtayachalo, who is the managing director of Mwanangwa rice company, stated that Zambia could only develop if it promotes the growth of local entrepreneurships.
“There is a growing trend by the private sector, especially chain stores to import agriculture products into the country when such commodities are locally available, which is very retrogressive as Zambia can only develop if we promote the growth of local entrepreneurship,” he stated.
Mtayachalo stated that Zambia should put in place measures to protect the local industry.
“Therefore, as long as our economy continues to be import oriented, Zambia shall never register high economic growth hence wealthy creation and poverty eradication at household level among our people shall remain a pipe dream if government does not put in place deliberate measures to protect the local industry. We can make a classical example of the United States of America, the Trump administration has imposed high trade tariffs on Chinese exports to the USA of what Mr Trump describes as making America great again by ensuring that America comes first and by so doing, he is protecting the interest of the American people and that is the way to go,” he stated.
Mtayachalo appealed to the ministries of agriculture and commerce to work together and ensure that the importation of rice and other agriculture products was restricted until when local supplies have been exhausted.
“I’m very confident that such a move shall go a long way to uplift many households in rural areas out of the jaws of poverty.
This is what is also happening to many Asian economies as their governments have put in place measures by subsidising their agriculture sectors in order to protect their local industries from unfair competition hence the region has continued to register unprecedented high economic growth,” he stated.
Mtayachalo stated that there were a number of areas that grow rice but were affected by uncontrolled importation of the commodity.
‘Further we have areas like Chama, Mongu, Zambezi, Kaputa and some districts in Luapula Province just to mention a few, which grow a lot of rice. However, due to uncontrolled importation of the commodity into the country, it is disadvantaging the local industry because they are unable to compete fairly in terms of price mechanism as the rice coming from other countries, especially from Asia, is cheaper than the locally produced one because their cost of production is lower compared to our situation,” he stated.
Mtayachalo appealed to the government to consider providing more incentives to agro-processing industries owned by Zambians, especially in rural areas in line with the country’s diversification agenda, which places agriculture as a cornerstone of the economic agenda if Zambians were to be attracted to invest in rural areas.
“Lastly but not the least, I want to also take this opportunity to appeal to the Zambia Development Agency (ZDA) to be more proactive and work hand in hand with the Citizens Economic Empowerment Commission (CEEC) and other relevant government agencies to promote the growth of domestic investments, especially in agro-processing sub sector instead of focusing more on Foreign Direct Investment (FDI),” stated Mtayachalo.