Monday, December 24, 2007

Zambia should reduce challenges of globalisation, says ZNFU

Zambia should reduce challenges of globalisation, says ZNFU
By Joan Chirwa
Monday December 24, 2007 [03:00]

Zambia needs to focus on reducing challenges of globalisation which have become deep-rooted in our economy, the farmers union has advised. In a statement to review the performance of the agriculture industry during 2007, Zambia National Farmers Union (ZNFU) executive director Songowayo Zyambo noted that farming enterprises were continuously under pressure to survive in a highly competitive environment.

“Therefore, the rising costs of production such as fuel, fertiliser, council levies and poor rural infrastructure require urgent attention,” Zyambo stated.

“In fact, government intervention to reduce the cost of some of these inputs to reasonably low levels is required now more than ever before because that is the only way agriculture producers in Zambia will be in a position to withstand competition against imports from producers that are not subjected to similar costs.”

Zyambo further stated that the agriculture sector during 2007 had recorded significant growth, with the maize, wheat and sugar sectors recording increased annual production.

“Generally, the year 2007 will be remembered as a year of good harvest particularly for the staple maize, wheat and sugar while production of export fruits, vegetables and flowers stabilised,” Zyambo stated.

“On the other hand, production of soybeans and export crops such as cotton, tobacco and coffee declined.”

He stated that Zambia had secured its food reserves resulting from a good maize production the previous season.

Zyambo further stated that the lifting of the ban on maize exports had helped stabilise commodity prices on the local market.

He also said the increasing global wheat prices had not affected the local market owing to the country’s improved wheat production which now stands at 180,000 metric tonnes, inching closer to the national consumption levels.

“This was one of the major positives in Zambia’s agriculture in 2007 because all countries in the region have been at the mercy of world global prices that have seen bread prices sky rocketing,” Zyambo stated.

“World grain stocks are lower now than they have been for the last 28 years and world grain prices have doubled. As commodity prices rise and farmers expand production to meet demand, the cost of inputs has also risen.”

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