The establishment of an ethanol plant in Kawambwa presents a perfect example of adapting to current economic and social circumstances that threaten the well being of the country.

It is a perfect response because it utilizes local resources to respond to a global problem and in the process creates jobs, markets and an opportunity to the local citizenry to benefit from their labour by value addition.

The fact that thousands of jobs will be created, as in excess of 600,000 tonnes of cassava will be required each year, the country will serve on vital foreign exchange used to import fossil fuels which consume more than a billion dollars every year.

This form of adaptation is feasible, appropriate and effective and calls for replication in various parts of the country to recognize and appreciate the culture endowment and advantage the region might enjoy.

Indeed with climate change there is no doubt that Luapula must now become a major agriculture producer for such crops as maize, sugar and other high value cash crops.

The change in climate, the slump in commodity prices and the impending job losses as a result of cost saving measures will require that the Government together with industry work through a specialized think tank to identify the potential for effective adaptation in all our 10 provinces.

Special attention should be paid to urban areas especially in the Copperbelt where skills and expertise developed at great cost on the mines has now been lost.  Obviously it is unrealistic to expect that all retrenched miners can go into farming because it is a specialized area and demands interest, resilience and above all patience, which most miners do not have.

It is for such areas that a multi-disciplinary approach intended to raise industrialization in Zambia should be undertaken.

There is no reason for example why we should import solar panels and other electrical generation equipment when these can be produced locally in Zambia.

At the moment most households use electrical and plumbing fixtures that use iron, copper and plastics.  These are imported at great expense from developed countries and yet we have the expertise and all that is required is plant, equipment or machinery to translate copper into copper connectors for plumbing or indeed copper rode for earthing and other purposes.

Nothing, however, will happen until and unless very serious effort is made to develop a systematic coherent and well organized pattern of adaptation which should be financed from a combination of public and private resources such as the one in Kawambwa where Sunbird Bio-Energy Africa and its partners China New Energy and China State Construction have teamed up to exploit cassava.

It is our hope that more projects can be established in Luapula to take advantage of the water bodies that are providing the environment for large scale and long term agriculture investment.

However, agriculture should be one of the many adaptation programmes we must engage in but the first step must be planning using our academic, business acumen and vast wisdom offered by Zambians of goodwill who wish to see this country progress.

Categorized | Editorial

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