By MAIMBOLWA MULIKELELA –
THE just-ended 88th edition of the Zambia Agricultural and Commercial Show in Lusaka seems to have lifted the nation’s spirit economically.
The uplifting assurance comes as Zambian industries reaffirmed their official breaking of new grounds in the areas of innovation, irrigation, research, value addition, industrialisation, technology, mechanisation, social enterprise and information communication technology.
It is worth mentioning that this year’s show was used to make people and communities appreciate themselves and their government, especially at the time when Zambia is commemorating her 50 years of Independence.
The jubilee celebrations provide yet another opportunity for the nation’s spirit to be lifted.
But just like for the show, the question that begs for answers is ; what will become of the entrepreneurs, social enterprises, musicians, costume designers, dancers, and street theatre performers after the celebrations?
Such massive and historical celebrations have unique powers of bringing together arts and traditions in new innovative and much lucrative production and performances.
During this year’s show, both local and international firms demonstrated their ability of breaking new grounds in line with the main theme.
Held under theme, “Breaking New Grounds and commemorating 50 years of Zambia’s independence,’ is was a prelude to the golden jubilee celebrations in the year which has declared as the year of agriculture and food security in Africa.
An opportunity was created for a number of enterprises and farmers’ organisations to see the need of changing the way they conducted their businesses by being innovative and introducing online platform.
This year’s show attracted more than 17 foreign exhibitors among them Egypt, India, Kenya, South Africa, Zimbabwe, China, Pakistan, Japan, Tanzania, Germany and Ghana. Others are Nigeria, Namibia,
Botswana, Mozambique, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Malawi.
Organised by the Agricultural and Commercial Show Society of Zambia (ACSZ) the show represents sectors of the economy that include: livestock, agricultural machinery and implements, poultry and its products.
Others include; horticulture, manufacturing, industrial equipment, motor vehicles, plastics products, trading, financial services, forestry and its products, fishing etc.
For 88 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 on the Zambian market.
According to the ACSZ this year’s budget was K 11.3 million for the preparation of the show, out of which K6.2 million was allocated for the improvement of infrastructure ground.
It is important to point out that the show was held at a time Zambia’s macroeconomic fundamentals were positively driven by agriculture, construction and mining sectors.
Breaking new grounds was exhibited in many respects from the category of participants, products on display and the interpretation of the theme for the event, fulfilling a cardinal point that ACSZ had in mind when they settled for the theme.
Therefore, the show was not meant to be just another show time as usual.
In the Lima and Young Farmers Halls, the farmers from the provincial centres exhibited different produce including maize, cassava and beans.
At the demonstration plots, seed companies and Zambia National Service where at hand to showcase various crops including cassava and orange maize.
The Livestock 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.
The government displayed how the Livestock Infrastructure Support Project would work, which aims at developing infrastructure and institutional capacity for livestock disease control as well as increased production, processing and marketing.
The project will be undertaken in Mafinga, Isoka, Mpika, Nakonde, Chinsali, Mbala, Kasama, mungwi and Mpotokoso.
In the manufacturing sector, the 88th show witnessed a growing presence of the manufacturing industry particularly in the agro-equipment sector where exhibitors strived to encourage farmers to use modern technologies to improve their yields.
Another display that brought back memories to the Zambian show-goers was by TATA, AFIL Engineering Limited, formerly Lusaka Engineering Company (Lenco), the manufacturers of trailers.
Other local manufacturing firms that were prominent in their category were Zambeef, with a diversified range of products, Zambia Sugar Company exhibiting the history of Sugar.
The Lusaka Agro-Technology Museum which was initiated in 1980’s by the Government and the 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.
The arena between the COMESA Village and sports complexes on the eastern wings of the showgrounds accommodated makeshift stores, occupied by a horde of micro-traders dealing in all sorts of merchandise from toys to cloths.
But despite the determination showed by the Small and Medium Entrepreneurs (SMEs) their exhibition showed flaws.
Officially opening the show, President Michael Sata pointed out that Zambia’s agricultural sector had over the years evolved from one that was dominated by large scale commercial farmers to the one in which small-scale farmers are active participants.
The president said the Government would continue to transform the sector through investing in areas that impact positively on the lives of the majority of the people.
“To this effect, emphasis is now being placed on increasing production and productivity of crops, livestock and fisheries sub-sectors, as well as promoting agro-processing and agro-services,” he said.
In a speech read for him by Vice-President Guy Scott, Mr Sata pointed out that the Government would continue to invest in areas such as irrigation, agricultural infrastructure as well as farm block development.
In addition, Government has continued initiating and implementing business reforms aimed at creating a condusive environment. Commerce, Trade and Industry Minister Robert Sichinga observes that
the business community had correctly interpreted the show’s theme.
Mr Sichinga points out that there was a considerable change not only at 50 years, but industries were now adopting new technologies and requirements which were useful for economic development.
And ACSZ president Murray Anderson points out that the society has in the past years embarked on ambitious development plan to help improve the showground facilities.
Mr Anderson says the society has engaged internationally renowned architects and planners from America to improve structures.