THE industrial setup in the country is responsible for under-development in rural areas and the Zambia Co-oporative Federation (ZCF) has worked out a strategic business plan to speed up rural industrialisation.
ZCF executive director James Chirwa said ZCF has identified lack of industrial policy in the country as the cause of under-development, saying industries were placed along the line of rail instead of rural areas where production of raw materials takes place.
Mr Chirwa said there was no way a serious country could expect development to come out from such a setup, stating that the policy hinders rural dwellers from benefiting from national development when they are the producers of raw materials.
He said the federation’s industrialisation strategic plan involves projects that will be transplanted to see to it that rural areas receive an equitable share of development in the country.
“In Northern-western province’s Mwinilunga District, we intend to put up a pineapple processing plant, which is aimed at promoting pineapple growing in in the area, as well as increasing productivity among farmers thereby creating a market for the crop.
We also intent to start up the processing of honey in some parts of Central Province like Kapiri, as a way of promoting bee-keeping and add value to honey and other bee products,” he said.
Mr Chirwa said ZCF has noted that since independence Zambia has suffered in terms of mealie meal prices, as consumers have never been given affordable mealie meal despite the country boasting of recording bumper harvests in the past years, thereby not creating equilibrium between production and the price of mealie meal.
He said the reason why the price of mealie meal does not reduce is because milling plants are located in misplaced areas.
He added that taking production closer to the source of raw materials is the company’s strategy of addressing the issue of high mealie meal prices in the country. “Our model is that we are going to set up milling plants in maize producer districts of rural areas. As we do this, we expect to be producing at lower of the cost because we’ll cut down the issue of transporting maize, say from Lundazi district to Lusaka, and transporting back the mealie meal from Lusaka to Lundazi” he said.
He said in such a way, Lundazi consumers would be availed with the commodity in Lundazi which will be cheaper than the price of mealie meal in Lusaka, thereby reducing the landing cost of mealie meal from Lundazi to Lusaka.
Mr Chirwa also revealed that ZCF will ensure that farmers in far-flung rural areas do not face challenges of accessing farming inputs and transporting their products as the federation will utilize the Link Zambia 8 000 road projects to ensure that all the farmers are catered for.
He said the federation will work with the Rural Roads Unit who received a directive from the President Lungu to grade roads which are not part of the 8000 road project as a way of helping farmers in far-flung rural areas.
He has since assured both the president and farmers that ZCF will effectively execute its duties especially considering that the federation has been moved from the Ministry of Agriculture, which he claims was hindering development of other cooperatives, to the Ministry of Commerce.