COMMERCIAL and small-scale farmers in the border town of Chililabombwe have appealed to the Government to put some measures in place to facilitate formal export trade between Zambia and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
Chililabombwe District administration officer Frank Siatwinda said the farmers had in the past two months been frequenting the administrative offices to press Government to expedite the formalisation of trade between Zambia and Congo DR.
The farmers' action follows the recent announcement by Minister of Agriculture Emmanuel Chenda on the need for Zambia to formalise trade, especially in maize and its by-products with the DRC which offers a big market for the local business community.
Anderson Mwila, a Chililabombwe-based commercial farmer and Mary Chibanda said in separate interviews that as the Government was trying to work out measures on the best way to implement maize exports and its by-products after value addition, it would be economical if such a move was started with Chililabombwe District on a pilot project.
The two farmers said it would make business sense to the farmers living in the area and economical for the country to have the thousamds of tonnes of maize produced in the area to be exported to DRC than being bought by the Food Reserve Agency (FRA) and transported to various depots for storage.
He said FRA was being burdened with buying maize from Chililabombwe and transporting it to its grain storage centres.
Mr Siatwinda said some farmers and representatives from various cooperative societies have informed the district administration that they had done their own market survey which showed that a 50 kilogramme bag of maize costs between K150,000 (KR 150) and K160,000(KR 160) if exported to the DRC.
"It is economical and easy for the farmer to transport and sell their maize to the DRC than waiting for FRA which is already over-burdened," he said.
Mr Siatwinda said Chililabombwe District was rapidly developing and it was now in a position to play a crucial role in facilitating the efficient formal icing of export trade between Zambia and the DRC.
He said the district had a number of commercial banks which will help in facilitating efficient delivery of banking services which promote commerce and trade at local and international levels.
The commercial bank which operates in Chililabombwe include: Finance Bank, Investrust, Indo-Zambia. Barclays Bank and Standard Chartered.