BUUMBA CHIMBULU writes
GOVERNMENT has urged businesses to forge local sourcing linkages between sectors, as the revised Small and Medium Entrepreneur (SME) Development Policy is expected to be completed for implementation next year.
Once completed, the revised SME Development Policy will be alive to the current challenges and more importantly, opportunities that the sector can capitalise on to enhance a thriving private sector, says Commerce, Trade and Industry Permanent Secretary, Mushuma Mulenga.
“It is indeed time for SMEs to realise their full potential and local sourcing linkages between the sectors,” Mr Mulenga said.
He explained that this had the potential to foster a more competitive and dynamic agro – industry sector that could promote local economic development.
Mr Mulenga was speaking at the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) Business Council (CBC) local sourcing for partnerships online training workshop in Lusaka recently.
“This should be viewed within the background of the importance of the agriculture sector within the Zambian economy. Agriculture remains a major source of food and employs over 50 per cent of people in rural areas,” Mr Mulenga said.
He said agriculture played a critical role in the value chain system because all food production begins with agriculture.
Mr Mulenga said this programme was important as it focused on firming up the agro – industry and enhancing MSMEs technical and productive capacities, to enable their participation in value chains at regional and global levels.
“This training in Food Safety Management Standards will help to address challenges of capacity and standards as these have been identified as major constraints to market access.
“Addressing these constraints is paramount and instrumental in unlocking their potential as drivers of domestic growth,” he said.
CBC Chief Executive Officer, Sandra Uwera, said the local sourcing initiative could be positioned as win-win projects for smallholder farmers and SMES, hospitality, retailers and agro-manufactures.
Ms Uwera explained that through these initiatives, SMEs win through increased productivity and access to reliable markets; and corporate buyers benefit through securing reliable local supply; and national governments through increased support for agriculture development and market diversification.
She said CBC had been implementing the Local Sourcing for Partnerships (LSP) Project since 2016.
The main objective of this project is to increase local sourcing from small growth enterprises by large companies in the COMESA region in order to create jobs and economic development.