By BEN PHIRI –
GOVERNMENT has prodded the Zambia Forest and Forestry Corporation (ZAFFICO) to help turn around the country’s economic prospects by investing in more timber plantations.
Finance Minister Alexander Chikwanda said ZAFFICO had been one of the rare success stories of State-owned companies that had performed well.
Mr Chikwanda said the firm had remained afloat and had in the process provided more than 330 permanent jobs for Zambians and created at least 400 job opportunities for others.
The Finance Minister said during the launch of the new ZAFFICO exotic timber plantation in Kawambwa yesterday that ZAFFICO had been a source of raw materials for both commercial and small-scale sawmillers, and had contributed to the growth of the timber industry in Zambia.
“We must push forward the frontiers of this industry which can create enormous export earnings.
“The investment being made in the plantation in Kawambwa can herald the industrialisation of the district and creation of jobs based on significant value addition,” Mr Chikwanda said.
He challenged ZAFFICO to start its own tea plantation with an ambitious outgrower component and pledged that Government would find the requisite resources for the project.
He said Government would marshal all the necessary resources to make ZAFFICO expand its ‘wonderful’ crusade to take Zambia forward.
“I want to task ZAFFICO with a challenge which I am persuaded it can undertake and accomplish with the same success it has attained in terms of forestry expansion,” Mr Chikwanda said.
ZAFFICO Board chairperson Benson Kapaya said there was a serious problem of deforestation in Luapula Province which required urgent attention.
ZAFFICO has so far planted 30,000 exotic timber which was expected to be ready in the next 25 years.