By BENNIE MUNDANDO
WE expect new Ministry of Fisheries and Livestock Minister Nkandu Luo to shut the door on importation of products we produce locally and always consult stakeholders if she wants to succeed, the Zambian National Farmers Union (ZNFU) has said.
ZNFU president Jervis Zimba said some sectors in her ministry were almost collapsing because previous ministers relied too much on technocrats who were making haphazard decisions from their offices while the situation in the field demanded different solutions.
“She must shut the door of imports on all products we can produce locally. President Edgar Lungu has made it very clear that there is no need for us to be importing things we can produce locally and it will be up to her to actualise this.
“We cannot diversify the economy if agriculture and livestock value chain is not protected,” Mr. Zimba said.
He said Zambia had the capacity to be self-sufficient in a lot products but that reckless issuance of import permits had flooded the country with cheap and substandard products from other countries thereby chocking the local industry.
“She needs to be extremely alert to imports which are killing the country. We want to be a self-sufficient country where we produce everything we consume locally. The challenge has been the reckless issuance of import permits even on products we can produce.
“The diary sector is almost collapsing because of reckless imports which were tolerated by her predecessors. Our milk products have no markets locally because that ministry has been allowing imports of cheap but substandard milk and its products yet we are producing enough of these,” he said.
He said Professor Luo had a high chance of transforming the livestock sector if she embraced everyone and paid attention to the plight of farmers by not allowing technocrats to mislead her into making wrong decisions.
“The livelihood of every farmer depends on the interface of cropping and livestock. As she settles down, she needs to be an all-inclusive minister, ready to listen to and work with stakeholders. That is the component that has been missing in that ministry.
“The challenges in the ministry are huge and the ministry alone cannot solve them other than working through the stakeholders. She must step in the field, see what farmers are going through and pick up suggestions. Farmers already have an idea on how the livestock sector must run and her priority must be to ensure that she work on disease free zones,” he said.