According to the Zambia National Farmers Union, Zambia has capacity to produce all its domestic food and manufacturing requirements. Public relations manager Kakoma Calvin Kaleyi said that the ZNFU supports government policy which promotes local production of all agricultural products the country can produce, and this includes restricting onion and potato imports.
Kaleyi: “ZNFU is confident that producers are capable of expanding production because there are examples where this has happened such as the wheat industry where import substitution has happened. And, the potato industry is another case in point.”
Apart from this, Kaleyi implored the Ministry of Agriculture to remain steadfast in its policy implementation and not to be swayed in any way because regulation of imported agriculture products should go beyond onions and potatoes to include all commodities which the country has comparative advantage to produce.
“This is the case for most fruits and vegetables except for where we are inhibited by climate conditions. Continued importation of these commodities erodes jobs locally, more so at a time when the country is experiencing domestic currency fluctuations, making it difficult to plan,” he said. “Further, the advent of COVID-19 has curtailed most jobs locally and everyone is turning to agriculture because people will always eat. This begs the question as to why anyone would turn to imports at this juncture. It is tantamount to economic sabotage.”
Kaleyi said reducing agricultural commodity imports of goods that can be supplied locally would have a profound positive impact on Zambia’s trade balance thus easing deterioration of the local currency and guarantee some level of stability, which will yield benefits as we import inputs and other requirements to support production processes.