Freeing up Food and Agriculture

Sara Drawwater
31 May 2015
Of all of Zambia’s economic sectors, food and agriculture is thought to hold the most promise for growth and development. One of Zambia’s most important natural resources is its arable land. Over…

Zambia’s food and agriculture potential

Of all of Zambia’s economic sectors, food and agriculture is thought to hold the most promise for growth and development. One of Zambia’s most important natural resources is its arable land. Over half the country’s land is classified as having medium to high potential for agricultural production. Another plentiful resource is water. Zambia’s mean annual rainfall is around 1,400 millimeters in the north and 700 millimeters in the rest of the country. Untapped potential exists in the irrigation of farmland, with tax incentives for producers who invest in such equipment.

Why those in the Food and Agriculture sector should use the internet

The days are gone when information was only available via print, radio and television. The days are gone when a person would acquire knowledge by seeking out an expert and talking to him. Today there are more mobile phones than there are people on the planet. Today your buyers and customers live in an age of information abundance. They are inundated by marketing messages. Even so your message must be heard. Your buyers can certainly still read, listen to the radio and watch television. But in addition to these, they can go on the internet. Since that is what more and more people are doing, that is where your information needs to be found.

There are people out there who want what you have, people whose first port of call is the internet. They can go on the net on a PC, a laptop, a tablet and now on their smart phones too. If you’re not there, how will your buyers and customers find out about you? Instead they’ll find out all about your competitors; they’ll learn to trust others — those who give them useful and helpful information. You can either loose out, or get started with an online presence.

Let’s say I am a farmer or a commodity buyer. I want to know the prices of commodities on a weekly basis. The livestock commodities I am interested in are beef, goats, pigs, sheep and poultry. The crop commodity prices I want to know relate to beans, cassava, ground nuts, honey, maize, rice, sorghum, soybeans, sunflower and wheat. What can I do? Visit farmers to find a fair price for what I want to buy or sell? That is so impractical. The most practical thing for me to do is check for this information online. Then I can establish who’s got what I want, or who can buy what I have.

Without online information about Zambia’s most important economic sector, everybody is operating in isolation. But with the business of Food and Agriculture online, farmers and commodity buyers will have an unparalleled view, a broad perspective, which will enable them to make informed decisions, and thus succeed. The Agritech Expo website is an example of a professional online presence in the food and agriculture sector.

A wider benefit

Zambia’s food and agriculture sector is committed to nourishing the growing population while protecting the country’s natural resources. With information made available online, we can continue to find new ways to help farmers produce more food more sustainably, and to develop more efficient methods of moving food from times and places of surplus to times and places of deficit.

We at the Best of Zambia believe that, with the talent and conviction of businesses that are committed to providing decision making information online, Zambia can better meet the challenge of ensuring all people have access to safe, nutritious and affordable food.

Increased information and knowledge through online platforms will have the greatest impact on smallholders. Though they face many challenges in improving their agricultural practices and livelihoods, this group of farmers is responsible for 80% of agricultural production in Zambia. Their economic success is Zambia’s economic success.