The president of the Zambian National Farmers’ Union (ZNFU) Jarvis Zimba said the Zambian agricultural sector can be turned around if farmers didn’t have to pay tax.
“If we can just zero rate agriculture, we can attract huge investments,” Zimba said in an interview with organisers of the upcoming Agritech Expo.
Jarvis said farmers are struggling because production cost keeps on rising, while returns decrease.
He said for agriculture to become a pillar in the economy, the national government should exempt the sector from taxes.
“If there is a zero rate on agriculture for a couple of years, we will see investments coming through.”
He said government has been reluctant to listen to pleas from ZNFU to remove agricultural taxes but hopes there might be some tax relief for them in the next budget.
According to Zimba, Zambia will never be a breadbasket if farmers have to pay the current tax rates for e.g. electricity, road taxes, council levies and labour costs.
He said Zambia is “currently the dumping ground for most products from our neighbours.”
“We hope Government can see that when we lobby, that we shouldn’t be a dumping ground and that our farmers are able to grow what our neighbours can,” Jarvis said.
“I think that will basically be a turning point.”
He said ZNFU also encourages farmers to diversify the type of fruit and vegetables they produce.
“The country is importing produce close to US$42 million from other countries. As soon as we close the gap, I am sure about US$ 30 million should be able to remain in the country and it will change the livelihoods of farmers.”