ZAMBIA – Government has suspended the issuance of licences for importation on edible oil, Minister of Agriculture and Livestock Given Lubinda has said.

Mr Lubinda said in an interview yesterday that the indefinite suspension is with effect from March 14.

“This decision has been made to allow experts from the ministries of Finance; Commerce; and the Zambia Revenue Authority (ZRA) to study the impact the importation of vegetable oil has on the Zambian market,” he said.

Mr Lubinda said his office has received complaints from Zambian producers, manufactures and consumers that the country has been flooded with imported oil. He said the findings of the experts will be made public as soon as investigations are concluded.

And Mr Lubinda says Government is looking at possible ways of diversifying the agriculture sector.

Mr Lubinda said the rate of diversification of agricultural production among small-scale farmers in the country is low. He was speaking when he addressed a delegation from Argentina in Lusaka yesterday.

He said the Argentine government should consider tapping into agro-processing as Zambia produces enough but lacks value addition.

“Maize is our staple food in Zambia but we export it and import things like cornflakes that are made from maize. This would not be the case if we had the machinery and knowledge of how to make finished products,” the minister said

He said Zambia has no capacity to produce finished products, hence the need to have stakeholders come on board to educate and train small-scale farmers.

“We encourage the private sector in Argentina to set up plants for small-scale farmers in Zambia because it will be a great investment which will benefit countries in the southern [African] region,” he said.

And Deputy head of mission of the embassy of Argentina Jorge Diaz de Biasi said his government looks forward to supporting key areas of intervention such as technologies and agriculture research.

He presented a draft agreement of the areas of co-operation that Argentina is ready to support once the agreement is finalised.

Mr de Biasi said the Argentine government is ready to render its assistance and will have the draft agreement signed with other sub-Saharan countries once the Zambian experts study it.

March 20, 2015;