GRACE CHAILE LESOETSA writes
LOCAL farmers have started supplying their produce to chain stores to ensure there is no shortage during this period of Covid-19, Minister of Commerce, Trade and Industry, Christopher Yalumahas said.
In an interview, Mr Yaluma said a taskforce team has been formed which includes the chain stores , Zambia Association of Manufacturers and other players in the industry which are aggressively tackling the issue of ensuring local farmers are given top priority by chain stores.
“There is a very active task force going on right now and we meet every fortnight. We have identified everything and most farmers have started infusing into the chain stores. Gladly, part of the taskforce is the chair from South Africa, who is the ShopRite Chief executive officer representing the chain stores,” he said.
Mr Yaluma said the task force team was also exploring ways in which farmers can grow their produce the whole year despite the difference in seasons to prevent shortage.
“There is also means in place to sustain the viability of that growth. We don’t want a situation where those products grown in the first quarter run off. We want to produce the whole year to prevent shortage,” he said.
The Minister called on local farmers to ensure their produce is of good quality if Zambia has to penetrate the industry beyond the borders.
“We must give service to the people by supplying products of superior quality. This is also an opportunity to have a trial run into the wider market of COMESA and Africa Continental for Trade Area,” he said.
In April, President Edgar Lungu directed the Ministry to ensure that Chain stores prioritise local agricultural products in their localities.