Government has been called upon to consider banning the importation of agricultural products in order to protect local entrepreneurs.
Mwanangwa Rice Company LTD, based in Chama District Muchinga Province, says the continued importation of agricultural products into the country such as rice is affecting the growth of the agriculture sector in the country.
Mwanangwa Rice Company LTD Managing Director Yotham Mtayachalo tells Money FM News that there is a growing trend by the private sector especially chain stores to import agricultural products into the country when such commodities are locally available which is very retrogressive as Zambia can only develop if we promote the growth of local entrepreneurship.
Mr. Mtayachalo states that as long as Zambia’s economy continues to be import oriented, Zambia will never register high economic growth hence wealthy creation and poverty eradication at household level among the people will remain a pipe dream if government does not put in place deliberate measures to protect the local industry.
“We can make a classical example of the United States of America, the Trump administration has imposed high trade tariffs on Chinese exports to the USA of what Mr Trump describes as making America great again by ensuring that America comes first and by so doing, he is protecting the interest of the American people and that is the way to go,” he said.
He is appealing to the ministries of Agriculture and Commerce Trade and Industry to work together and ensure that the importation of rice and other agricultural products into the country are restricted until when local supplies have been exhausted and I’m very confident that such a move shall go a long way to uplift many households in rural areas out of the jaws of poverty.
“This is what is also happening to many Asians economies as their governments have put in place measures by subsidising their agriculture sectors in order to protect their local industries from unfair competition hence the region has continued to register unprecedented high economic growth,” he adds.
Mr. Mtayachalo says there are areas like Chama, Mongu, Zambezi, Kaputa and some districts in Luapula province just to mention a few which grow a lot of rice however due to uncontrolled importation of the commodity into the country, it is disadvantaging the local industry because there are unable to compete fairly in terms of price mechanism as the rice coming other countries especially from Asia is cheaper than the locally produced one.
Mr. Mtayachalo is further appealing to the government to consider providing more incentives to the agro-processing industries owned by Zambians especially in rural areas in line with the country’s diversification agenda which places agriculture as a cornerstone of the economic agenda.
“I want to also take this opportunity to appeal to the Zambia Development Agency (ZDA) to be more proactive and work hand in hand with the Citizens Economic Empowerment Commission (CEEC) and other relevant government agencies to promote the growth of domestic investments especially in agro-Processing sub sector instead of focusing more on Foreign Direct Investment (FDI),” he said.