Cotton yield low

By MAILESI BANDA

EVEN with a ginning capacity of 400,000 metric tonnes of cotton annually, Zambia has continued to produce about 275,000 metric tonnes because farmers do not regard agriculture as a business.

Cotton Board of Zambia executive director Dafulin Kaonga said it was important that farmers regarded farming as a business that could sustain their lives.

Speaking in an interview with the Daily Nation, Mr Kaonga said, there was potential for growth in the cotton industry, adding that there was need for more farmers to bridge the gap of the deficit.

Mr. Kaonga noted that diversification from the production of maize to other cash crops would give the farmers financial security.

“We advise that farmers grow a food crop as well as a cash crop looking at the fluctuations in the prices of different crops that will be able to give the farmer financial stability,” he said.

He explained that cotton remained the most marketable crop after maize in Zambia and that the world was yearning for the cotton crop.

Mr Kaonga said the price for cotton was currently good because stocks had dwindled on the international market thereby creating a good opportunity for the cotton farmers.

He said the market was readily available for cotton producers, adding that there was need for the farmers to adhere to the right farming practices and increase productivity per hectare.

“Whatever the price is, the farmers that adhere to the right farming processes will benefit from the crop, it is rather unfortunate that the bulk of our farmers’ yields is nothing to talk about as they get hit by the effects of not following the agronomic practices,” he said.

He said that farmers that adhered to the right agronomic practices were assured of a ready market for cotton.

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CEEC dishes out K4.4m for Solwezi starch plant

By BUUMBA CHIMBULU

A K4.4 MILLION loan has been disbursed by the Citizens Economic Empowerment Commission (CEEC) for the establishment of a starch processing plant in Solwezi.

The plant will be financed by CEEC and implemented by PremierCon Starch Processors Limited.

CEEC Director-General, Likando Mukumbuta, said in an interview that the construction of the plant was expected to commence in November this year..

Mr Mukumbuta said the plant, which would produce starch from cassava and sweet potatoes is expected to become fully operational this December.

“With a production capacity of 480 tonnes of starch per day, the plant will create a market for 15, 000 small scale farmers of cassava and sweet potatoes every year and will save Zambia US$6million in starch imports every year,” he said.

He said the plant would create 200 jobs at construction phase and 160 direct permanent jobs when operational.

Mr Likando said that the investment formed part of the drive to develop the rural areas under Government’s Industrialisation and Job Creation Strategy,.

And PremierCon Starch Processors Limited chief executive officer, Lubasi Yuyi, said his company was committed to ensure that cassava and sweet potatoes become amongst the principal drivers of industrialization and inclusive growth in Zambia.

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Maize farmers seek good price

By BUUMBA CHIMBULU

MUMBWA farmers have left numerous traders and buyers stranded as they are holding on to their maize with anticipation that Government will soon announce a better floor price.

The Zambia National Farmers Union (ZNFU) in its Week 27 brief said the current state of affairs on the crop market scene in Mumbwa was at a standstill as farmers had decided to hold onto their crop whilst waiting for the price of grain to go up, leaving numerous traders and buyers stranded.

ZNFU reported that most farmers were stuck with huge quantities of grain waiting for the Food Reserve Agency (FRA) to enter the market.

Recently, Mumbwa District Commissioner, Felix Ndopu, called on the Ministry of Agriculture to speed up export permits to allow farmers export their commodity as they were being exploited by the private sector who were buying a 50kg bag of maize grain at K55.

Mr Ndopu said in an interview that buyers from the private sector were taking advantage of the farmers in his Mumbwa by offering low prices for their maize.

Mr Ndopu disclosed that buyers from the private sector were buying a 50kg bag of maize at K55 and K100 for a 50Kg bag of soybeans.

“The private sector is exploiting our farmers who put in a lot for their maize and other produces.  Much as we can advise farmers to just wait and sell their crops to Government, they also need money hence succumbing to the exploitation,” he said. He had since said speeding up export permits by Ministry of Agriculture would assist farmers get value for their crops. Mr Ndopu explained that exporting the commodities would ensure farmers generated reasonable income from their produce.

“Government therefore has to come on board quickly and start buying the commodities to ensure that they provide competition to the private sector who are exploiting farmers in Mumbwa,” he said.

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Kwacha holds firm

By BUUMBA CHIMBULU

THE Kwacha has continued to trade within a tight range against the dollar as it is trading between K9.050 / K9.100, K0.05 stronger than Thursday’s opening levels.

During the Friday trading session, the local currency traded within a tight range against the United States dollar and did not make any significant movements.

According to Cavmont Bank Zambia daily market report, the local unit opened at K9.100 / K9.150 and maintained these levels for most of the session on the back of demand and supply being matched.

This performance resulted in the Kwacha to close the trading session at K9.050 / K9.100, K0.05 stronger than the day’s opening levels.

Elsewhere, global markets were focussed on the United States employment report for the month of June which showed that more jobs were added to the world’s largest economy.

On the money market, commercial banks’ aggregate current account balance increased by K270.77 million to K565.89m while the overnight borrowing and lending rate decreased by 0.03 percent to 12.50 percent.

Therefore, total funds traded on Interbank were K227.40 million.

Still on the money market, Thursday’s Treasury Bill auction was under-subscribed by 37.76 percent, K504.16m was bid for out of the K810.00m which was offered by the Bank of Zambia.

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World Bank tips Africa on growth

By MAILESI BANDA

IMPROVING conditions for businesses in Africa is key to economic growth, says the World Bank’s latest report.

The report also highlights that the continent needs more affordable, connected and livable cities.

And regional director, Structures Africa, William Johnston, said there was immediate demand felt due to rapid populous migration to city centres or urban areas, adding that governments and city planners across the continent could afford to focus on infrastructure development.

He said for them to succeed in their planning and development efforts, there was need to adopt a split strategy and focus, explaining that the first focus was naturally  on securing the much needed infrastructure and services to meet the growing demand in the medium-term.

He said significant focus also needed to be placed on future planned upgrades and new builds that should be smart, sustainable and thereby future proof in the long-term.

“Designing and building a future proofed city that is both smart and sustainable covers the entire city infrastructure, where much of sustainable and smart design also relates to doing the basics better and less in silos.

An integrated and holistic design of basic services must be considered upfront; everything from access to basic services” he said.

Meanwhile, sales director for Ruckus sub-Saharan Africa, Riaan Graham, said the growth of connected devices and their potential impact was resulting in increased awareness for the benefits that a smart city has to offer.

“There is significant movement towards embracing this new technology-rich eco-system.

However, this extends beyond just dropping in technology and hoping for the best. A truly smart city is one that is focused on integrating technology to interconnect different governmental departments to create a single infrastructure,” he said.

He explained that that provided better service delivery, improved municipal services, infrastructure enhancements, and utilizing real-time monitoring systems for the betterment of all citizens.

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Govt to enhance insurance policy

By ANNIE ZULU

GOVERNMENT will soon enhance insurance policy on all its properties.

The policy would help insure government property in case of a disaster, such as fire.

The decision was arrived at after a meeting by the committee of ministers appointed by President Edgar Lungu to look into the fire incident that destroyed goods and stalls worth millions of kwacha at Lusaka’s City Market.

Vice President Inonge Wina convened and chaired the first committee meeting at Cabinet Office on Friday, July 7, 2017.

At the same meeting, Government assured that the City market would be rebuilt in 6 weeks.

The exercise would be led by the Zambia National Service (ZNS), in collaboration with the Lusaka City Council (LCC) and the business community.

An alternative market site to be used while the rebuilding of the market was ongoing has been identified at Soweto market. Government also would open an account where donors and well-wishers could deposit funds to help affected marketeers and rehabilitation for the market.

The account would be housed at the Bank of Zambia for transparency and deposits would also be made at various commercial banks to be announced.

Government further intends to come up with a technical committee to plan on how to build resilient markets countrywide. This is according to the communique made available to the Daily Nation yesterday by Permanent Secretary for administration in the Office of the Vice president Stephen Mwansa.

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