Sikhulekelani Moyo, Business Reporter
LEATHER and farming sector leaders have applauded the proposed establishment of an agro-industrial park between Zimbabwe and Zambia saying the initiative would go a long way in creating more value for local farmers and agro-processing industries.
The two countries have a strong comparative advantage on the agriculture sector hence the establishment of a common industrial park would enhance the growth of the sector and downstream businesses.
Zimbabwe and Zambia are in the process of establishing and managing the agro- industrial park and Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) is supporting this initiative as part of technical assistance towards accelerating regional cooperation and development.
Speaking on the sidelines of the project sensitisation meeting in Bulawayo last Friday, leather industry researcher and academic, Mr Jacob Nyathi, who is also assistant secretary for the Zimbabwe Leather Development Council said Zimbabwe and Zambia share many common interests and leather processing was one of them. He said the establishment of the agro-industrial park will be of benefit to the leather industry.
“Zimbabwe is one of the leading leather processors and Zambia has capacity to supply large quantities of leather including crocodile leather,” he said.
“Through the agro-industrial park the two countries will work together as they have different capacities in leather processing.”
Mr Nyathi also said joint industrialisation efforts were critical in facilitating sharing of critical information and skills needed to improve the agriculture and leather industries in both countries.
Zimbabwe Commercial Farmers Union (ZCFU) Matabeleland North provincial chair, Mr Winston Babbage, said the proposed agro-industrial park was good news for the entire farming community.
Apart from unlocking the wider farming sector gains, he said Zambia and Zimbabwe would be able to leverage available infrastructure to bring about mutual economic transformation.
“Zambia and Zimbabwe have a good connection such as the railway line to connect the two countries and this will be utilized by the agro-industrial park,” he said.
“The agro-industrial park is a good idea to promote small scale farmers in both countries. Large scale producers depend on small scale farmers therefore, the industrial park will promote the growth of the small scale farmers as they will be supplying the agro-industrial park.”
Industry and Commerce Deputy Minister, Raj Modi, said Zimbabwe and Zambia have a common destiny adding that the agro-based economies would benefit more from the establishment of an agro-industrial park.
“Exporting raw material and semi-finished goods does not promote economic growth but agro industrial park will promote value addition to the produce and the two countries will have to export finished goods, which is good for economic growth,” he said.
“Also, the agro-industrial park will promote industrialization and consumption of local products. The agro-industrial park will create a market for the producers both from Zambia and Zimbabwe.”
Deputy Minister Modi said the initiative will also create jobs for citizens of Zimbabwe and Zambia.
Industrialisation is a key component under the Government’s National Development Strategy (NDS1:2021-2025), a key building block towards attainment of an upper middle-income economy by 2030. – @SikhulekelaiM1.