WE have not abandoned our slogan of “more money in your pocket” as perceived by some detractors of development, says President Edgar Lungu.
Commissioning the Zampalm Outgrower Scheme in Kanchibiya district, Muchinga Province on Thursday, President Lungu said the PF would continue to invest so that the slogan becomes reality.
“We will continue to invest in projects with positive impacts on wealth and job creation. God has endowed us with abundant natural resources. Therefore, it is incumbent on all of us to work hard and in unity as this will enable us to transform our country. Already a lot is being done, Zambia is changing for the better. My government means well to all of you,” he said.
President Lungu said he was confident that the Zampalm Outgrower Scheme would change the agricultural landscape of Muchinga and Luapula provinces respectively, as thousands of small-scale farmers are integrated into the palm oil value chain.
He recalled in 2016 when he went to Kanchibiya he pledged his government’s support to Zampalm for its palm oil project and to further ensure implementation of an out grower scheme.
President Lungu said the outgrower scheme was poised to transform the area into an economic hub of Muchinga Province and improve the lives of people in the province and neighbouring regions.
He said leaders took special pride in delivering on their promises and that Thursday was one such event.
President Lungu said the project resonated with the theme of the country’s Seventh National Development Plan of “Accelerating development efforts towards the Vision 2030 without leaving anyone behind.”
He said outgrower schemes were an important aspect of sustainable agricultural development.
President Lungu said such schemes provide large firms with an opportunity to control supply and ensure quality, while helping small farmers improve production standards and providing them with a guaranteed market for their produce.
He said the Zampalm project and the out-grower scheme will enable the country to build capacity and increase domestic production of palm oil and its by-products.
President Lungu said the project was also expected to address the rural-urban drift by creating a micro economy which would trigger direct and indirect benefits such as jobs and a ready market for the palm fruit bunches.
“I am informed that the project will take a phased approach, to achieve at least 5,000 beneficiaries and a minimum of 40,000 hectares of oil palm plantation in Muchinga and neighbouring provinces,” he said.
President Lungu said there were many parts of this country where chiefs have not been willing to provide land for investment, thereby hindering meaningful development.
He said he was convinced that other traditional leaders would take the Muchinga scheme as an example of how they should coexist with government for the good of the citizens.
“By working together, we will improve the living standards of our people. Here in the Kopa and Kabinga chiefdoms, your royal highnesses have shown leadership in facilitating the empowerment of the people. I therefore, commend your royal highnesses, Senior Chief Kopa and Chief Kabinga for establishing the Kopa and Kabinga Trusts. The trusts have promoted collaboration hence enabled farmers to register in the first phase of the scheme,” he said.
President Lungu said the PF government was ready to partner with the private sector in its quest to foster national development.
He said uplifting the economic lives of Zambians should not be left to government alone.
“It is and should be a partnership because we all serve the same people,” he said.
President Lungu told the beneficiaries that the success of the project lay in their hands.
“Zampalm has provided you with a market for your produce. It will also provide you with the expertise to grow the palms and other extension services. I urge you to take advantage of the skills development programme that Zampalm will be offering such as best practices of planting and maintaining the plantations so that you have healthy yields during harvest time and maximise your own returns,” said President Lungu.
“Rather than chasing quick money, you have opted to be patient and work hard now, as you await the palm trees to reach maturity knowing that your labour will reap a generous reward in the next few years.”