COMMERCE deputy minister Miles Sampa says Government is in a hurry to start exporting mealie meal to Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in its pursuit to realize value addition to Zambia’s agricultural products.
Mr Sampa, who is also Matero Member of Parliament, said Government had also decided to invest in 13 solar milling plants in various parts of the country to produce as much mealie meal as possible, part of which would be exported to the DRC.
He told Parliament yesterday that once the milling plants were up and running, Zambia would start the exportation of mealie meal to the DRC instead of transporting maize to the Food Reserve Agency (FRA).
Mr Sampa was responding to a question by MMD Lunte Member of Parliament Felix Mutati during the oral and answer session when he (Mutati) wanted to find out if Government, through the Ministry of Commerce had a policy direction on the exportation of maize.
“In terms of value addition, what direction are you taking?” Mr Mutati asked.
But in his response, Mr Sampa said government was in hurry to implement the constructing solar milling plants across the country in order to start exporting mealie meal as opposed to exporting maize.
“I think with maize it is a sensitize product for obvious reasons. Every season everything above the food security measure levels 500 metric tonnes, indeed we look to get it exported but before then we want it processed. Hence I mentioned earlier that is why there has been huge investment in solar milling plants, thirteen of them in various parts of the country,” Mr Sampa said.
He said from the source where the maize was stored, instead of transporting it to FRA, government wanted it processed before it could start exporting mealie meal to Congo as opposed to maize.
“And that is the concept and this government is in hurry to implementing, I thank you Mr Speaker sir!” Mr Sampa said.
Mr Sampa said government had always been emphasising on the importance of value addition not only to agriculture produce but for all raw materials, adding that Zambia required value addition.
In response to Mpongwe Member of Parliament Gabriel Namulambe wanted to know whether government had any plans to encourage value addition industries for agricultural products, Mr Sampa said government had always been emphasising on the importance of value addition not only to agriculture produce.
Mr Namulambe also wanted to find out what incentives, if any were provided to entrepreneurs who wanted to venture in value addition.
Mr Sampa said the importance of value addition was also reflected in key national documents such as the National Development Plans and the Industrialization and Job Creation Strategy Paper which identified agriculture as one of the priorities sectors were value addition needed to be emphasised.
Mr Sampa said in order to encourage value addition in industries for agricultural products; government had been implementing the fiscal and non-fiscal incentives that encouraged export oriented agro processing.
Mr Sampa said government was also supporting the establishment of Multi Facility Economic Zones, Industrial Parks, and Business Incubation Centres were value addition to agricultural produce was encouraged.
He said government was also supporting the development of sector specific skills and training schemes through the provisions of special incentives.
Mr Sampa added that government was also targeting the Citizens Economic Empowerment Commission fund supported by programmes and activities dealing with value addition to farm produce.