Zambia looks to diversify

Zambia is completing a model farm meant to encourage economic diversification from copper and cobalt mining to agriculture, Finance Minister Situmbeko Musokotwane said on Feb. 2.

The 155,000-hectre Nansanga farm will be ready for foreign and local investors this year as the country pushes to grow more export crops to reduce dependency of copper exports, he said.

Musokotwane said an initial 42.4 billion kwacha ($9.19 million) had been allocated in the budget he recently unveiled for infrastructure development at Nansanga.

“In terms of electricity, I can confidently say we are 80 per cent done with the works,” he said.

“What we need is electricity for irrigation farming and there is money provided in the budget to do roads and dams, which will be for our small-scale farmers while we will let the big (farmers) sort themselves out.

Another 56.5 billion kwacha was to be used by small-scale farmers countrywide to grow export crops, mainly maize, he said.

Musokotwane said part of the Nansanga land would be awarded to European investors keen to grow crops for biofuels and that the government would soon engage contractors to do roads and dams to ensure there is irrigation farming all year round.

The global financial crisis has hit copper exports and Zambia has said its economy cannot continue to rely on the copper industry, the country’s economic mainstay.

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