Economic crisis


That Zambia is facing an economic crisis is not a debatable matter.

What pundits and critics alike disagree on are measure to be taken to ameliorate the current economic crisis which is threatening to metamorphosise into an economic slowdown or recession.

As a virtual mono economy dependent on copper we must admit that our fortunes have dimmed with the huge drop in copper prices.

Much as some opposition parties are proposing miraculous suggestions to solve the immediate problem, the reality is that export earnings have dwindled and as a result the treasury will not have the resources to implement all the envisaged projects.

The treasury is confronted with many capital and recurrent demands that must be fulfilled in order to keep the wheels of governance running regardless of the volatility in copper prices.

Diversification is undoubtedly the favored and most viable solution to over dependence on copper, but this will not be achieved within a short space of time. Equally diversification into agriculture, which seems to be the most promising sector, will not be easy and must come from very carefully planned projects.

It should not be forgotten that water is now more expensive than milk in Europe. A series of subsidies and levies advanced to boost production and protect the market have created a butter mountain in Europe, which our products will find hard to penetrate.

Our diversification programme must include tourism and the development of secondary industries that will utilize agricultural and mineral products. We have the potential to grow export capacity but this must be done with the full support of the private sector.

Our most immediate available commodity for export is maize which we seem to have in abundance, if we can mop up all the stocks around the country, to sell to our neighboring countries who are in food deficit.

Although the weather was not very favourable farmers rose to the occasion to produce a surplus, hopefully the weather will still favour us this year- although pessimists predict otherwise as a result of the worsening weather change the world is facing.

Although meteorologists predict a near normal season it would be prudent to err on the side of caution by not exporting all the surplus maize we may collect, just in the unlikely event that we be forced to import if the season fails.

There are of course many factors to be considered in the storage of maize. substantial amounts have often gone to waste because the storage facilities were not only inadequate but often failed to provide effective shelter against the elements and insect infestation. Therefore Government through the Food Reserve Agency must work towards a comprehensive national grain purchase and storage campaign that will secure all the grain for export and localĀ  storage as a reserve measure.