By Nation Reporter
Government should consider providing incentives for the agriculture industry to address declining exports which have reduced from US$60 million to US$20 million per year, says Zambia Export Growers Association (ZEGA) chief executive officer Luke Mbewe.
Mr Mbewe said lack of incentives in the agriculture industry was worrying as it had hampered the growth of the sector.
Speaking at the Zambia Development Agency presentation (ZDA) exporter audit result dissemination in Lusaka, Mr Mbewe observed that Government seemed to have concentrated much on the mineral industry while neglecting agriculture.
“We have no incentives in the sub-sector , that is why it has declined from employing of over 15,000 people 8 years ago to 4, 000 people now and exports have also reduced from US$60 million per year to just about US$20 million,
“This is very worrying. We seem to have attempted to support the mineral industry instead of agriculture as a priority sector,” he said.
Mr Mbewe said the sector 5 years ago was promised a better draw back scheme which would exempt certain items for the sector from import duty payments which had since not happened.
“On February 2014, the ZDA issues that seem to move the priority sector to agriculture and now the sector is no longer a priority because we cannot access incentives,
“It does look like the SI 2014 of February would like to give incentives to those investors that invest in industrial parks or rural areas and that excludes a lot of investors accessing those incentives,” he said.
He also observed the need to effectively to effective administration of those incentives themselves for it to be clear on who was entitled to access the enticements.
“5 years ago we were promised that Government will come up with a better scheme including ZRA,
“They proposed that they will come up with a better duty draw back scheme and it has never happened and it is a cumbersome procedure we are looking for direct exemption from the payment of import duty on a number of items,” he said.