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Friday, July 12, 2024

Zim-Zambia trade relations: agro-industrial park on the cards

Story by Tamuka Charakupa

TRADE relations between Zimbabwe and Zambia are on an upward trajectory, with the proposed Zimbabwe-Zambia Common Agro-Industrial Park project set to see at least two cereals value-addition plants being set up.

A competitive advantage of the busy Harare-Chirundu Highway, functional railway line and existing grain storage facilities have placed Banket town as the prospective site for the establishment of the Zimbabwe-Zambia Common Agro-Industrial Park (CAIP).

The trade deal, which is being facilitated by the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), will see at least two cereal value-addition plants being set up, one in each of the two countries.

A four-member COMESA delegation met with Mashonaland West Minister of State for Provincial Affairs and Devolution, Honourable Marian Chombo this Monday to update her on progress made so far.

“For this project, we have already done a pre-feasibility study looking at the crops produced here and invest in so that they feed in this agro-industrial park which we are establishing as well as analysing the enabling frameworks, institutional mechanisms, policies, legal environment between the two member states. So, going forward, we are now conducting a full feasibility study,” said COMESA Senior Private Sector Development Officer, Ms Esther Mwimba.

Besides Banket, five other potential sites have been identified for the construction of the processing plant, with the development expected to improve the provincial gross domestic product.

“We are going to show them five or six centres, which are located at Makuti, Chirundu, Magunje, Lionsdale and Makonde, and they are all on the Harare-Chirundu road and you may be concerned about the state of the road, but I can assure you that we have an ongoing rehabilitation project to the standards and we have set a deadline of 2027 towards its upgrading,” said Mashonaland West Minister of State for Provincial Affairs and Devolution, Honourable Marian Chombo.

“We are a cereal producing province but to date, we do not have a single processing plant within the Province such that everything is being taken to other provinces. That means we are exporting jobs and money, so it is most likely going to benefit the value addition to the produce and also create employment,” she said.

A Memorandum of Agreement for the project was signed between Zambia and Zimbabwe in 2021, with cementing economic and trade relations between the two countries high on the agenda.

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