Agriculture can fix Zambia’s economy-Chikwanda

ZAMBIA’s economy can be fixed if agriculture is going to register exponential growth because land unlike other factors of production is ever renewable, Finance Minister Alexander Chikwanda has said.

And Mr Chikwanda has said it is shocking that Zambia’s construction sector has been importing steel into the country when Universal Mining and Chemical Industries Limited, a steel manufacturing company had the capacity to satisfy the country’s demand.

Meanwhile the Nitrogen Chemicals of Zambia (NCZ) is about to complete the production of its 106,409 tonnes of D-Compound fertilizer contract having manufactured 85,000 tonnes which has since been distributed to 77 districts across the country.

Mr Chikwanda has predicted that with increased investment in agriculture, the exports of agricultural products could easily surpass the mining sector which currently was contributing about 77 per cent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

Mr Chikwanda who toured NCZ together with Agriculture and Livestock Minister Wilbur Simuusa said government was satisfied with the performance of the fertiliser manufacturing company which for many years had been what he called a white elephant.

He said President Michael Sata’s agenda for the country was transformative and that he was determined to revamp the agriculture sector by recapitalizing the Nitrogen Chemicals of Zambia that has since reached its full production capacity.

Mr Chikwanda said it was going to be a tragic economic mistake had NCZ been sold because the company was the fulcrum of development of the agriculture sector.

He said had NCZ been sold as had been planned by the previous governments, it would have certainly been sold for a song which would have left many Zambians without jobs.

Mr Chikwanda was happy that NCZ had embarked on an ambitious programme of manufacturing ammonium nitrate fertilizer that would see the use of Urea fertilizer phased out by the year 2015.

“Agriculture is the tool we are going to use to fight poverty because it is the only sector that has the true potential to exponentially contribute to the development of the economy. We are going to fix this economy using agriculture because land unlike other factors of production is renewable. That is why when some people were saying there was no need to recapitalize NCZ because it was a white elephant, we said let us look for the money and resuscitate the company. Here we are today telling a success story and had NCZ been sold as was being suggested by some people, it would have been sold for a song…even a chorus,” Mr Chikwanda said.

Agriculture Minister Wilbur Simuusa said the Farmer Input Support Programme was a success as most of the farmers across the country had already started receiving D-Compound fertilizer.

Mr Simuusa said the 50,000 tonnes Urea fertilizer procured from Saud Arabia would by next week be in the country and that the farmers would be able to receive it before the end of October.

And Mr Chikwanda said it was not making sense that the construction industry including those under government sponsored projects were importing steel from other countries when the Kafue Steel company had the capacity to manufacture quality steel to feed the Zambian market.