Govt to continue allowing Agric exports

PRETORIA – Wednesday, 13th August, 2014 – GOVERNMENT has said it will maintain the policy on allowing local farmers to export their agricultural produce, Agriculture and Livestock Minister, Mr. Wylbur Simuusa has assured. The Minister made the announcement during a panel discussion at the Second Agri-Business Summit in Johannesburg on Tuesday.

Mr. Simuusa emphasised the point when he later spoke in separate interviews with SA FM and CNBC Africa on the sidelines of the Summit.          

He said government has made a decision to keep the borders open for all those who wanted to export their crop “and we will keep it that way. We responded to calls from our farmers such as the ZNFU and we want to operate an open border policy.”

The Minister was speaking on the theme: “Agribusiness Trade Opportunities in Africa”. Other speakers at the two-day summit were Mr. Antois van der Westhuizen from Nedbank Limited, and Director for Commodity Derivatives at the Johannesburg Stock Exchange, Mr. Chris Sturgess.

Mr. Sturgess commended the Zambian government for allowing exports saying this gave confidence to the private sector who would be assured that they would have a ready market when they decide to invest in Zambia.

“When you open the borders like that, you allow productivity to flourish. And if you start building on such things, you find that private-public-partnership starts to work,” Mr. Sturgess said.

Meanwhile, the Minister has invited South African investors to come to Zambia and look at putting up a pineapple processing plant. “When I visited pineapple growers in Zambia, they told me the area had great potential for pineapple growing and that the market was readily available. And from our assessment, that is correct. If any of you feels they want to invest in a pineapple factory, please come through, you are welcome.”

Mr. Simuusa said Zambia also had various other types of citrus fruit, such as mangoes, to which more value could be added by processing them into other products.

And a group of agricultural experts in South Africa has opposed giving subsidies to farmers saying the practice was unsustainable.

The experts were responding to Mr. Simuusa who solicited for comments and views from the panelists on what they thought about agricultural subsidies.