VICE-PRESIDENT Inonge Wina says the drought situation that Zambia is faced with provides an opportunity to re-think the country’s agricultural approaches.
Launching the Southern Province Investment and Tourism Expo at Avani Hotel to be held in September under the theme ‘accelerating development through value addition and diversification’, Vice-President Wina said despite the adverse effects of climate change, Southern Province was still the highest producer of most major crops in the country.
“Southern Province has for a long time been known as the ‘bread basket of the country’. Despite the adverse effects of climate change, the province is still the highest producer of most major crops in the country. I am also aware though that the sector has over the years been dominated by maize production…. I urge you (Southern Province
minister Edify Hamukale) to embark on aggressive agriculture and crop diversification campaign and promotion programmes,” Vice-President Wina said.
She urged farmers to consider diversifying into growing crops such as soya beans, groundnuts, sunflower, cassava, cowpeas, cotton, sugarcane, stervia (a small shrub like plant which is 100 to 300 times sweeter than sugar) and wheat which have proven to be so valuable in other parts of the world.
“My government is aware of the effects of climatic change that has ravaged the southern region due its increased dependency on rain fed agriculture…. Government has seen the need for setting up supporting irrigation infrastructure and other agricultural infrastructure in order to address these challenges faced by our small-scale-farmers,” Vice-President Wina said.
She added that despite being home to the largest cattle population in Zambia, there was little beef from Southern Province being exported.
Vice-President Wina said the livestock sector was still characterised with low or no value addition at all, adding that this sector had the potential to be the major contributor to the national gross domestic product.
“The abundance of livestock in the province presents opportunities for setting up of tanneries for the production of leather from the raw hides through value addition. The investment expo should help attract investors in this sub-sector,” she indicated.
Vice-President Wina further indicated that the province had high potential for setting up milk processing plants to make cheese, yoghurt and other milk by- products.
She also called for the tourism sector to harness the vast potentials of the Victoria Falls to support growth in the sector.
“The province has many other tourist attractions such as the Ng’ombe-ilede site, game parks and game reserves, hot springs, among many others. It is my plea that diversification within the tourism sector will become a reality after this investment exposition,” Vice-President Wina said.
She further revealed that the availability of uranium resource could also add to the alternative sources of energy generation in the province and become what she termed as the ‘energy power house’ of Zambia.