By HELEN ZULU –
CHAIN-STORE supermarkets and other trading houses including hotels across the country have reduced on the importation of products and are now sourcing them locally.
This follows the Memorandum of Understanding (MoUs) which was signed between supermarkets and hotels on one hand and the local Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) on the other.
Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) Business Council (CBC) chief executive officer Sandra Uwera said more locally produced were now being stocked by trading houses and other users.
She said in an interview in Lusaka that after the pilot phase of the Local Sourcing for Partnerships (LSPs) project in 2016 which saw 80 suppliers being trained in quality and standards, there had been increased business partnerships.
She said that more than five contracts had been signed between Spar Supermarkets and Lotuno Enterprises, Intercontinental and Surge Investments and Kizi Cakes.
Other partnerships were between Taj Pamodzi and Palace Foods Enterprises dealing in strawberries as well as Surge Investments.
“After the training workshop which was conducted in collaboration with Zambia Association of Manufacturers (ZAM), some MoUs have been signed and as a result, most retail outlets have stopped importing their products, they are now buying locally,” Ms Uwera said.
She said after the pilot phase of the project, there had been a significant increase in awareness on the benefits of sourcing locally, such as the mutual benefit to the buyers and sellers, reduction in supply chain costs and time saving.
Ms Uwera said the programme was still being implemented and noted the need for the stocking of more local products.
She said CBC was keen to help SMEs with capacity building such as training in standards and understanding of the importance of food safety and help consumers to also understand the value of local products.
The CBC is still implementing the LSPs project in which training workshops were held for SMEs in standards and foods safety.
“Further to this, the CBC provides a platform for SME’s and multinational enterprises to meet and discuss possible partnerships, we also issue recognition certificates to companies that support local buying and facilitate more buyer-seller platforms in the region,” she said.