A Solwezi-based farmer has appealed to government to avail information on which countries in the region need maize so that farmers produce for export markets.

Edward Makai, who is also an entrepreneur, suggested that government should put in place a mechanism to enable farmers and maize traders to access foreign markets and increase their returns without being labelled as smugglers.

Makai made the proposal during a mentorship visit by Fortune World Investments (FWI), engaged by Kansanshi Mining Plc.

“Government should make this a priority and sensitise farmers so that everybody will know that maize is on demand in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and potatoes and maize are on demand in Angola. As at now, we’ve no proper information. People are just cultivating to support families and not doing it to make money,” Makai complained.

He said demand for agricultural products in other countries was an indication that Zambian farmers should produce more for consumption and for export and bring money into the country.

The former civil society leader said border trading spots had economic importance as they attracted cosmopolitan customers from within and outside Zambia.

“People take their maize to markets within Zambia near the Congo border because we don’t have more buyers. Instead of selling one bag of maize at K70, they take it to the border where one bag is sold at K150 or K200, then you make more money there,” he revealed.

Makai, a participant at the Kansanshi Mining Pc-sponsored business development workshop, said the training helped him view farming as business.

And FWI chairman Andrew Kafuta said farmers needed to abide by the law and not engage in the smuggling of goods into neighbouring countries.

Kafuta said farmers that felt victimised by law enforcement officers had the liberty to engage government and prove that they were not committing illegal acts.

“So, as an association, you may lobby government to put in mechanisms to monitor the movement of goods and ensure that you’re not going with a truck into foreign countries, but offloading your goods on the Zambian side,” advised Kafuta, adding that although individual farmers may not excel, they could easily make a breakthrough as an association.

The objectives of the training and mentoring programme are to enable participants acquire knowledge for enterprise development; facilitate creation of employment by entrepreneurs or participants; come up with businesses that could be sustained beyond the life of the mine and create formalized businesses that could become possible suppliers.

– Story courtesy of SUMA SYSTEMS.