Vice-President Inonge Wina has called for more space for Zambian products in chain stores operating in Zambia as a way of empowering local producers and enterprises that thrive on agricultural and manufacturing value chains.

This is according to a statement issued by Permanent Secretary in charge of administration in the Vice-President’s office Stephen Mwansa, Thursday.

“The Vice-President has expressed concern regarding the current trend where there are more foreign products on shelves in all supermarket chains than local products. She said that this situation has to be reversed in order to empower local producers and enterprises that thrive on the agricultural and manufacturing value chains but have no market currently. The Vice-President has since directed relevant ministries and agencies to ensure that this initiative bears rewards to businesses and the people of Zambia. The Vice-President further stated that this call to action is not in any way meant to stifle competition but to let the local economy grow through decent and sustainable jobs along the value chain, with the view to uplifting the living standards of rural and urban dwellers,” Mwansa stated.

“The Vice-President further stated that while government is promoting international trade in line with established protocols at SADC, COMESA and international levels, government has a duty to support and protect local farmers, manufacturers and other enterprises in order to ensure economic growth; and that downstream benefits from international trade are felt by the people in the country. Her honour the Vice-President stated that this action is one way of driving socio-economic development through the agricultural and manufacturing sectors as outlined in the Seventh National Development Plan (7NDP).

Meanwhile, the Vice-President said time had come for Zambia to come up with more practical measures for achieving acceptable local content levels.

“Further, the Vice-President has also noted that while current efforts by supermarket chains and franchises are assisting farmers and manufacturers, time has come for more practical measures with concrete timeframes for achieving acceptable local content levels, noting that reasons such as low supply volumes, poor standards and quality of products from local suppliers should no longer be used. In order to quicken the localisation programme, supermarket chains need to streamline and accelerate the process of ensuring that local farmers, aggregators and entrepreneurs are given fair space to compete with international products. In the same vein, the vice president has encouraged Zambian suppliers to adhere to international standards in order to meet local and international market expectations,” stated Mwansa.