Zambia National Farmers Union (ZNFU) president Jarvis Zimba says diversifying the economy into an agricultural-based one cannot be achieved without putting in place proper incentives.

In an interview, Zimba said this year’s AGRITECH Expo (27th to 29th April), which attracted eight countries with over 40 foreign companies exhibiting was a great success.

“So [Agriculture] is the only sector that can massively create employment. The only thing we need to do correctly, especially for Zambia is let us zero rate agriculture for a couple of years, then you are going to see the development,” Zimba said.

“The last time we did that, if I can remember was when (Ng’andu) Magande was Minister of Finance. It was the first time in Zambia that we started seeing the centre pivot… This is where we need to go back again because if you put in too many taxes, the person who gets hit at the end of the day is a farmer who is very vulnerable, in terms of price. If you zero rate, then you have got the political will.”

Zimba said his vision through ZNFU was to transform the country into an agricultural-based economy, “so that we can get rid of this myth within our brains that copper is the only thing”.

“Let us look at other countries. Do they have mines in Malawi? It is very little but it is all about agriculture. New Zealand, what are they famous for? If you look at Netherlands itself, where is the economy based? It is purely agriculture in the Netherlands,” he noted.

The ZNFU president said the main objective of AGRITECH Expo was to promote technology in the agricultural sector.

“This is an international event. Last year, we had only two countries but this year, we have got eight countries which have come to showcase their countries; and in there we had forty foreign companies which came to exhibit. You can see that it is becoming more attractive and mind you, it is not just about the show, it is about technology transfer,” said Zimba.

“Something which was a bit unusual was the sprayer which was made by Saro Industries. They have made a pump where instead of you carrying it at your back, it is a kind of small wheelbarrow thing but it is a sprayer. Instead of you using a tractor but you use it manually then you’re just going to spray – lovely small machine which you can use. These are the innovations which we are bringing on the market.”