By Maimbolwa Mulikelela –
THE 91st Zambia Agricultural and Commercial Show (ZACS) leaves a green mark in the economy as the country poised itself for a more enhanced development with emphasis on preserving the environment.
The theme for this year’s show, “Promoting a Green Economy” did justice to the efforts that various exhibitors came up to showcase to the world.
Promoting a green economy means using smart technology and research to build on today’s markets, production, value addition and human capital.
The diversity was exhibited in many respects from categories of participants, products on display and the interpretation of the theme for the event, fulfilling a cardinal point that Agricultural and Commercial Show Society of Zambia (ACSZ) had in mind when they settled for the theme.
Last year, the event was held under the theme, “Managing the Environment for Growth,” and has in the last three years attracted over 1000 exhibitors, mostly local.
In the manufacturing sector, the show witnessed a decrease in the number of exhibitors with companies like Zambia Sugar, Trade Kings, Parmalat, Lafarge and Ndola Lime missing from the list of exhibitors.
Zambia Information and Communications Technology Authority (ZICTA) was another prominent company missing in its category this year.
Companies like Dangote Industries and Lamasat Investments exhibited for the first time at the event.
The agricultural sector was another prominent feature at this year’s show and as usual the magnificent display of farm products and animal husbandry in the agricultural section at the show grounds was a true testimony of the sector’s growing importance of the economy.
In addition, the Coffee Board of Zambia, Zambia Honey Council, Poultry Association of Zambia and their mother body Zambia National Farmers Union (ZNFU) showcased the potential for further growth of the sector.
The agro-equipment sector also encouraged farmers to use modern technologies to improve their yields and this time around, CAMCO Equipment exhibited a wide range of agricultural equipment and was beefed up by commercial banks such as the National Savings and Credit Bank (Natsave) and Stanbic Bank Zambia which were at hand to provide credit facilities to the farmers.
Yet again, Afil Engineering Limited, formerly Lusaka Engineering Company (Lenco), manufacturers of trailers, brought back the memories to Zambians, this time with diversified products on display.
Despite some flaws in their display , the company stand was displayed with a range of fabricated steel Zambian products such as 30 tonne capacity trailers, fuel tanks, school desks, hospital and office furniture, window and door frames.
Also notable among the regulars at this year’s show, were TATA Zambia which displayed assembled TATA products, including buses and trucks to reaffirm their continued support in promoting a green economy through technology and research.
Other local companies that were prominent at this year’s show were Zambeef, Zambia Forestry and Forest Industries Corporation (ZAFFICO), and Kazuma Plastics.
It was further intriguing to observe the growing presence of media houses which included Daily Nation Newspaper, Muvi Television, Diamond Television, Zambia National Broadcasting Corporation, Zambia Daily Mail and Times Printpak Zambia Limited.
Since its last exhibition in 2015, Times Printpak, the publishers of the Times of Zambia and Sunday Times, staged a grand comeback to the show this year.
At the stand, the company displayed the history of the newspaper since the early 1950’s and interpreted the theme through the use of the digital newspaper called the ‘e-times’.
Communication and Transport Minister Brian Mushimba toured the Times Printpak stand and commended the company for playing its role in informing the nation since inception.
Generally, this year’s show saw farmers, manufacturers and traders showcasing innovation and diversity in product display and interpretation of the theme as many of their products were competing well in the region and on the international market.
As usual, there was business space for everyone including the traditional healers who displayed different kinds of medicines to the show goers as well as the hawkers and peddlers.
The arena between the COMESA Village and the sports complex on the eastern wings of the showground’s accommodated makeshift stores occupied by a group of micro-traders dealing in all sorts of merchandise, from toys to clothes.
On the other hand, the Small and Medium Entrepreneurs (SMEs) for the first time tried to exhibit a number of products by playing their part as the engine growth to the Zambian economy.
The livestock section showed animals such as dairy cows, pigs, poultry, goats with Mbesuma ranch bulls spicing up the livestock section.
Agriculture Minister Dora Siliya says in line with this year’s theme, the Government has been using smart agricultural practices.
Ms Siliya says the promotion of responsible agricultural production ecosystem is therefore central to the policies that the ministry is supporting.
Commenting on this year’s event, President Edgar Lungu says the Lusaka premier annual event has continued to bring together various talents and skills from different sectors of the economy.
Mr Lungu says the Government had adopted a similar Multi-Sectorial Development approach in the Seventh National Development Plan for promoting a diversified agricultural sector over the next five years.
He says the theme for this year’s show is a clear indication that sustainable, environmentally friendly, and an all-inclusive economic diversification approach is the best way to make the economy more resilient to the ever changing global economic patterns.
“Our commitment to Promoting a Green Economy is also evidenced by the ratification of the Paris Climate Agreement in December last year.
I would like to urge various sectors in the country to adopt measures aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emission as well as conserving the environment,” Mr Lungu says.
He indicates that with the theme in mind, farmers will endeavour to diversify their production in a manner that does not adversely affect the environment.
His South African counterpart Jacob Zuma who officially opened the show says agriculture is thebedrock of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region as more than 80 per cent of people depend on it for livelihood and employment.
“Considering the variation of weather pattern in the region, there is need to review the work done in the food reserve facility in order to improve the regional food basket,” Mr Zuma says.
He says the agriculture show had relevance beyond Zambia and its alignments with the Africa Union agenda 2063.
ACSZ president Ben Shoko says this year’s theme underscored the society’s continued recognition of the importance of protecting and promoting good environmental practices for sustainable economic development.
“As the Society, we have over the years endeavoured to improve infrastructure with a view of ensuring that our exhibitors, invited guests and show goers are exposed to a conducive environment meeting the expectation of all,” Mr Shoko says.
The onus is on the show society to ensure that the country’s agriculture and commercial show lives up to the expectation of the exhibitors in the years to come.