By Maimbolwa Mulikelela –
THE 94th edition of Zambia’s Agricultural and Commercial Show held in Lusaka for six days returned with a bang and once more raised the country’s profile at the backdrop of economic recovery and Covid-19 pandemic.
This year’s show represented an excellent opportunity for companies to showcase their innovation through technology for sustained economic growth.
With local and international exhibitors participating at this year’s annual event held under the theme” Innovation through Technology- Technology Transform Businesses” the country’s economic reform and industrialisation agenda was once again revived.
Two years ago, the event was held under the title “Embracing Industrial Development” highlighting the country’s industrialisation agenda that can create potential for enhancing growth.
Despite challenges that included high cost of living, the country’s debt problems and Covid-19 pandemic, success of the event overshadowed its challenges, although the above issues remains unresolved.
Interestingly, the diversity 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 Society of Zambia (ACSZ) had in mind when they settled for the theme.
Taking advantage of the show period, some Zambian companies like CAMCO, SARO showcased innovative ideas or gargets of power generation and implements.
Furthermore, innovation through technology was not only displayed in the area of information communication technology and banking but in research, industrialisation, energy, value addition, technology, mechanisation, social enterprise, and livestock management.
From the exhibition that ranged from livestock equipment and management, agriculture, farm machinery, trading, agro-processing and technologies that included gas stoves, solar panels and generator.
Also on display were various traditional medicines for all types of illnesses including love portion and manhood enlargement demonstrated the diversity of Zambia’s commercial and social enterprise, all these were well interpreted in this year’s theme.
Hence an opportunity was created for a number of enterprises and farmers’ organisation to see the need of changing the way they conducted their business in the times of the Covid-19 era through technology to enhance their operations.
This can be done through the use of digital platforms and technologies to reach out to their customers and enhance their operations for sustained growth.
Interestingly, a number of companies demonstrated their ability that they too can be able to contribute to the nation’s economic development despite, the economic problems and the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.
This year’s Show attracted foreign exhibitors Burundi, Botswana, Cameroon, China, Egypt, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Ethiopia,
Germany, India, Italy, Iran Japan, Kenya, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Nigeria, Pakistan, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda and Zimbabwe, among others.
For the first time in the history of the Show, about 110 Chinese companies exhibited at this year’s Show, taking the Show by storm with their splendid displays of goods and services offered by the Chinese enterprises in Zambia.
Notable Chinese entities included Good Time Steal, Wonderful World, Marcopolo Tiles, Zambia China Economic and Trade Cooperation Zone
(ZCCZ), and among others.
The show is organised by ACSZ in Lusaka and has been representing sectors of the economy that include: livestock, agricultural machinery and
implements, poultry and its products for the past 94 years.
Other include; horticulture, manufacturing, industrial equipment, motor vehicles, plastic products, fishing to mention a few.
For years now the Show has provided an important platform to showcase Zambia’s products and also give an opportunity for foreign businesses to promote their products and services on the Zambian market.
Therefore, the Show was not meant to be just another event but a time where business linkages and investment opportunities sealed.
In the Lima and Young Farmers Halls, the farmers from the provincial canters exhibited different produce including maize, cassava and beans despite some part of the country being hit by droughts.
That did not stop the farmers from competing for national and individual awards.
At the agriculture demonstration plot was an attraction with seed companies and Zambia National Service (ZNS) showcased various crops and vegetables.
Next to the agriculture areas were the fish ponds that had different species aimed at promotion of aquaculture subsector.
The livestock sector was also another prominent sector was also another prominent sector at this year’s show and as usual the splendid display of animals ranging from goat, sheep, cattle and poultry, demonstrated its growing importance to the economy.
In addition, the ministry of Agriculture and Livestock showcased what the Government was doing in improving the livestock sector in the country.
It also promoted its irrigation facility it was constructing in Lusaka, Central and Copperbelt provinces.
In the manufacturing sector, the showpiece showcased a growing presence of the manufacturing industry particularly in the energy and agro-equipment sector where exhibitors strived to promote value addition.
This year around, Lamasat, CAMCO and Saro exhibited a wide range of agricultural equipments and energy products such as generators,
households’ furnisher, agriculture implements, and tractors to mention a few.
Other displays worth noting were Zambeef, AFIL Engineering Limited; formerly Lusaka Engineering Company (Lenco), manufacturers of trailers
The company stand this year was disappointing as it did not display its usual range of trailers, tippers, fuel tankers, among others.
It was also breath-taking to see a number of vehicles on display at this year’s show, yet again demonstrating the growth of the motor industry in Zambia despite not having our own motor or assembly plant.
Our local manufacturing firms that were prominent in their category were CAMCO, Trade Kings Group with a diversified range of products and
displayed various innovations the company was undertaking.
The Lusaka Agro-Technology Museum which was established in 1980s by the Government and exhibition was meant to illustrate the historical
scientific development with a view to encourage the general public to explore not only the latest technologies but also the reasoning.
The Show was able to accommodate everyone including the hawkers and peddlers who displayed various commodities and attracted huge crowds
because of the various discounts being offered as well as overpriced merchandise.
This year the canter of attraction was the Trade Kings who massively marketed their range of products in the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) village and offered attractive discounts to their washing powder, soaps and biscuits to mention a few.
The arena between the COMESA Village and sports complexes on the eastern wings of the show grounds accommodated makeshift stores, occupied by horde of micro-traders dealing in all sorts of merchandise from toys to cloths and traditional medicines.
However, the Small and Medium Entrepreneurs (SMEs) were determined to break the barriers and this was demonstrated in the various products that were displayed at the Show, though much needs to be done by the SME Development Ministry.
Show goers were treated to traditional dances showcasing Zambia’s rich cultures and there were music from local musicians such CQ Muzukulu
and Macky 2 among the notables.
The show was spiced up by mass movement from majorettes, army displays, ZNS calisthenics and military bands.
On the sport side, show goers were entertained by horse riding and helicopter riding, among others.
Another exciting entry will be the children’s park comprising of the merry-go-round and nursery area created in a fun fair set up, which was overwhelmed.
Commenting on this year’s Show theme: ‘Innovation through Technology-Technology Transform Businesses’ President Hakainde
Hichilema was happy with the splendid innovation displayed at some of the stands he visited because they were responding to Government’s
President Hichilema indicated that agriculture should unlock the country through value addition to local produce.
He implored the private sector to ensure that agriculture became the country’s economic mainstay.
This is because the world was currently high on food demands due to challenges such as disease, climate change and political conflict.
“And this is why I say technology is important in leveraging on our national agriculture productivity. We have to invest in smart farming, extension services and then value addition to make Zambia the bread basket of the region and continent,” President Hichilema said.
President Hichilema pointed out that the show’s theme was timely as the country was open for business and ready to attract investments in sectors such as agriculture.
Mr Hichilema, who is also the show’s patron, said the show’s return after a two-year haul gave entrepreneurs an opportunity to create
sustainable synergies with the Government for wealth and employment creation.
“I urge the private sector to come on board and join us on the public private sector dialogue forum so that we share ideas on how we can maximise on this potential to create jobs for our people; the youth that put us in office: very important,” he said.
He said there was a yawning market for Zambian foods abroad and farmers should embrace mechanised agriculture to sustain enhanced
Zambia Agriculture Show Society president Duncan Mfula said the show had recorded an overwhelming attendance from both local and foreign exhibitors.
Mr Mfula said this was despite the challenges that business houses had gone through due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
He said the society planned on hosting a separate show specifically for farmers in October in readiness for this year’s crop growing season.
“Sir, we will work closely with Small and Medium Enterprises and captains of industry to ensure that we continue sustaining this
event,” Mr Mfula said.
Indeed, such annual events have unique way of bringing together industries, arts and traditions in innovating through technology-technology transform businesses.