Chisamba, Zambia, March 03, 2018 --(PR.com
)-- “There are very positive steps being taken by the Zambian government to promote the agricultural market, with lower barriers to export and minimal intervention in the grain markets in 2017 and intentions to use market mechanisms to manage grain stocks in the future, are all welcome and must be encouraged.” This is according to Rob Munro, Director of Strategy at Musika, a Zambian non-profit company that works to stimulate private sector investment in the smallholder market. Musika has been a key partner since the start of Agritech Expo Zambia, the outdoor farming expo which returns for its fifth edition in Chisamba from 12-14 April.
Munro adds: “The e-FISP initiative is a prime example of the government and the agricultural sector working together for the benefit of all players in the market, and the industry would like to see the same sort of collaboration in the commodity marketing sector.”
Opportunities in Zambia’s agri sector
Asked about the main current challenges in the Zambian agri sector, Munro lists the overdependence on rain-fed grain – and maize in particular - to drive the agricultural sector as well as grain storage. He continues: “Encompassing both issues is the issue of policy. It is critical that Government creates a stable and predictable agricultural policy environment that encourages market diversification and incentivises the sort of long-term investments in production, storage and value addition to allow agriculture to thrive in Zambia.”
With regards to the opportunities in the country’s farming sector, the Musika Director of Strategy says: “The livestock sector, especially the smallholder dairy, beef and small livestock markets, have so much more to offer the economy than they currently do. The legume sector is also ripe for expansion and the irrigated crop market is still operating way under potential. What each of these sectors need is a combined effort of input and technology providers and traders and processors to offer a ‘holistic’ market opportunity to both large and small farmers to make investments in these sectors. In terms of Zambia’s long term agricultural sector growth, the food processing sector has tremendous opportunity to play a key role.”
Musika projects and philosophy
Highlights for Musika projects during 2017 includes the strong growth in the formal cassava markets of northern Zambia which Munro says “demonstrates a key tenet of Musika’s philosophy, that the creation of a strong private sector-led market opportunity leads to not only a robust supply response from smallholder farmers but also investment by those farmers in improved varieties, improved land preparation and so on that will lead to greater productivity and wealth creation in rural communities.”
The two headline areas that Musika will be focusing on in 2018 are:
1. Market opportunities that exist for smallholders around combining agricultural growth and environmental protection and benefit, which includes the role of renewable energy in powering agriculture, and also agroforestry and biofuel and biomass production systems
2. Structural market developments that can bring the benefits of transparent, efficient trade to all participants in the agricultural economy. In 2018, Musika will ramp up its support to the nascent commodities exchange and also explore opportunities for private investment in transparent, hygienic and efficient wholesaling structures in the fresh fruit and vegetable markets.
Agritech Expo keeping agri centre stage
Musika has been a key partner of Agritech Expo Zambia in Chisamba from the start five years ago, which Munro says has contributed to the development in agriculture in two ways: “It has exposed farmers, large and small, and other industry players to a wide range of productivity-enhancing technologies, and all the other services that go with them. It has also – literally - brought agribusinesses together and helped develop commercial partnerships that have undoubtedly had an impact on the agricultural sector far beyond the few days of the event itself.”
He continues: “The second contribution is less explicit but equally important, and that is through the sharp public focus that it throws on Zambian agriculture once a year. Through its strong media coverage, the attendance by high-profile politicians and the surrounding positive publicity that it attracts, Agritech can rightfully claim to be a key contributor to keeping agriculture ‘centre-stage’ to national development.”
The multi-award winning Agritech Expo Zambia returns to GART in Chisamba from 12-14 April and is expected to bring more than 22 000 visitors, over 270 local and international exhibitors with 3500 VIP and large scale farmers and 150 members of the media. International and country pavilions from France, Germany, Zimbabwe, Czech Republic, Finland and the EU have already been confirmed Agritech Expo Zambia is free to attend for all visitors that pre-register.
As in previous years, Agritech Expo enjoys extensive support from the agri industry with well-known suppliers AFGRI and John Deere returning as platinum sponsors once again. Confirmed gold sponsors are Gourock, SARO and Ursus.
Agritech Expo Zambia is owned by the Zambia National Farmers Union (ZNFU) and is organised by Spintelligent, leading Cape Town-based trade exhibition and conference organiser, and the African office of Clarion Events Ltd, based in the UK. Another well-known agri event by Spintelligent is Farm-Tech Expo Kenya.