THERE is need to create and strengthen regional markets within Africa to make the most of cross-country and intermarket trade,” says Zambeef joint chief executive officer Francis Grogan.
Mr Grogan made the observation during a group tour by South African farmers to ZAMBEEF’s Huntley processing operations and Kalundu Dairy Farm in Chisamba.
Lloyd Phillips of Farmer’s Weekly magazine, who headed the South African group, observed that there were vast opportunities internationally for the sector, and that countries needed to find niche products that they could then market to specific markets within and beyond the region.
“There is a growing income and a growing consumer base in Africa, and SADC must meet its own demand and have strong food security then look for niche markets that will present fair value for its surplus produce,” said Mr Phillips.
“The fundamental strength of a country is in its agriculture sector. There is a need for enabling environments, skills training, effective research and development with meaningful transfer of knowledge to farmers,” he said.
“Regional farmers’ workshops and conferences and the visits such as the one they were on to ZAMBEEF would do a lot towards the transfer of technical information across the region,” he said.
Access to regional markets would in turn lead to increased employment, foreign direct investment and tax earnings for the country with the increase in demand for particular agricultural products, he added.
“It was only possible to expand outside the national boundaries if Zambia continued to be self-sufficient in basic food crops,” observed Mr Grogan, reiterating the sentiments of his fellow joint chief executive officer Carl Irwin and emphasising a point he made during the just-ended Euromoney Zambia Finance and Investment conference in Lusaka last week.
“Now markets can be created anywhere and more importantly each country has its own speciality crops and expertise that it can build on in order to achieve a competitive edge, This however does not mean the disregard of local markets but rather building up local capacity to such a level to enable it to cater for wider markets as we gain improvements in the sector and farmers strive towards higher standards,” said Mr Grogan, He further called on Zambian farmers to make the most of Zambia’s abundant resources, as compared to other countries in the region, such as land and water, and strive to be leaders in agriculture across the continent.