President Lungu speaking in Sinazongwe yesterday during the North- West Kooperatives (NWK) national cotton field day at Nzenga Farm.said that the establishment of textile mills is critical to the creation of more employment opportunities for youth and acceleration of national economic development and hence directed ministers of Commerce, Trade and Industry, Finance and Agriculture to work closely to explore ways of setting up textile mills to create jobs and earn the country foreign exchange.
The three ministries should ensure the retrogressive trend of exporting cotton in its raw form is halted once textile mills are established so that the country should manufacture a variety of cotton products.
Mr Lungu said that his desire is to see the agriculture sector making a significant contribution to the countryâ€™s gross domestic product (GDP) in line with the Patriotic Front governmentâ€™s economic diversification programme.
Cotton is one of the countryâ€™s main foreign exchange earners, hence production of this crop must be supported. Nearly all of the cotton lint produced in the country is exported. This must not be allowed.
He implored cotton ginners to give farmers a fair price for their crop and commended NWK Agric-Services for offering farmers a higher price at K3.70 per kilogramme this season compared to last seasonâ€™s K3.20.
He said that government is encouraging growing of other crops such as cotton, rice and sorghum to promote agricultural diversification. Sinazongwe and the entire valley area is ideal for growing cotton and other crops such as sorghum, millet, groundnuts, fruits and vegetables.
President Lungu said that the region should continue to produce cotton to feed the Gwembe Ginnery to create more employment opportunities especially for the youth. He also added that Zambia needs a consortium of investors to invest in the agriculture sector to boost crop production at both household and national levels.
The agriculture sector has immense potential to spur wealth creation and economic growth with participation of the private sector. Government, through the Ministry of Agriculture, has prioritised agricultural diversification, Farmer Input Support Programme, irrigation development support programmes, agriculture machination and research and development. There is also need to maximise the usage of water for irrigation purposes.
Minister of Agriculture Dora Siliya said that Government is committed to addressing all the challenges facing farmers and ensuring that the country produces enough agro-products for export in view of the booming demand for such products.
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