PRETORIA – Saturday, 16th August, 2014 – ZAMBIA and Argentina have agreed to revive various areas of cooperation for the development and benefit of the peoples of the two countries.
Argentina has since indicated that it will organise a visit to Zambia by its minister of agriculture by the end of November this year so that the two countries could agree on areas of cooperation in the agricultural sector.
The development follows a meeting between Agriculture and Livestock Minister, Wylbur Simuusa and Argentina’s Ambassador to South Africa, Carlos Sersale di Cerisano in Johannesburg on Friday. The meeting was also attended by Ms. Natalia Handrujovicz, in charge of technical cooperation at the embassy of Argentina in South Africa; Deputy Director in the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock, Mr. David Mundia and First Secretary for Economic and Trade at Zambia’s High Commission in South Africa, Mr. Mande Kauseni. Mr. Sersale di Cerisano also takes care of affairs relating to Zambia, among other countries in the region.
Mr. Sersale di Cerisano said his country was willing to send a group of various experts in agriculture after which Zambia and Argentina could then firm up agreements in areas to work together.
He said despite Argentina having a population of about 40 million, it was producing food enough to feed a population of over 400 million. He pointed out that his country has been looking to strengthen south-to-south cooperation after it adopted the policy almost 10 years ago. He observed that it has been difficult for Argentina to identify activities in Zambia in which it could get involved because the South American country did not have resident diplomatic representation in Zambia.
The ambassador noted that it would be beneficial if the two countries could identify research projects which they could embark on together.
The two countries have since agreed to study the agreement relating to agriculture that Argentina has entered into with South Africa and identify areas which could be adapted to Zambia’s scenario. The two will also look at the memorandum of understanding on scientific and technological cooperation that Zambia signed with Argentina in September, 2008 to identify areas in which implementation could start in earnest.
Mr. Simuusa welcomed Argentina’s suggestions noting that Zambia will take them seriously as they could helpful in terms of realising some of the objectives behind the idea of establishing farm blocks across the country.
He said Zambia had a lot of arable land but was only utilising about 14 percent of this which left a lot of room for countries wishing to move into Zambia to invest in agriculture.
The minister later met with the Head of trade and Economic Mission at the embassy of Israel, Mr. Itai Melchoir to discuss ways in which Israel and Zambia could cooperate to help strengthen Zambia’s agricultural sector.
Mr. Simuusa said Zambia was eager to learn from Israel which, despite its small population and land mass, has managed to develop its agricultural sector to levels with which it could compete at global scale.
He said government has resolved to help small scale farmers in order to increase their productivity and noted that Israel was one of the best countries to tap into if Zambia was to succeed in mechanising its agriculture.
Mr. Melchoir observed that there was need for the two countries to identify specific areas of cooperation. He pointed out that Israel could offer to train Zambian small scale farmers in various agricultural programs.
The meetings were arranged by the High Commission of Zambia to South Africa.
Meanwhile, Zambia’s High Commissioner to South Africa, His Excellency Muyeba Chikonde has implored countries to seriously explore ways of enhancing economic integration if Africa was to fully exploit its potential.
Mr. Chikonde, who was speaking when he featured on CNBC Africa’s ‘Beyond Markets’ television program, said there were a lot of instruments acting as barriers to trade among countries and that this was affecting the “poorest of the poor”, who were mostly women engaged in cross-border trading.
He said if Africa was to seriously talk about integration, it needed to start looking at introducing incentives in order to encourage regional trade with the aim of graduating this to continental integration.
The High Commissioner noted that he was impressed with the continued increase of interest in Zambia by various investors and trade missions visiting and planning to visit the country. He cited the New Economic Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) Business Foundation which is arranging several trade missions to Zambia starting in the next few weeks, trade missions from Argentina and Israel, as some of the many who have shown confidence in Zambia.
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