Ministry of Commerce, Trade and Industry Christopher Yaluma has called on local business entities to form cooperatives that will manage businesses on a larger scale in the country.

Mr. Yaluma observed that most local manufacturers relying on foreign chain stores to sell their products have adversely suffered the effects due to the Coronavirus, hence are shutting down one after the other.

The Minister indicated that if local businesses formed groups to create larger stores, they would absorb locally produced merchandises saying that this could fill up the gap being left by foreign stores.

Mr. Yaluma explained that the move would help promote local industries and at the same time ensure that manufacturers create a variety of locally produced goods of high quality.

“Something strikingly bad is the fact that all the types businesses have been affected with COVID-19.  And it has brought in so much anxiety as to how the businesses will survive. Now we’ve seen food lovers and spar wined, and others will follow.

“But you see we can’t wait to see chain stores going or various markets going and we sit down to just wait for the dooms day to come, all what we have said is let us utilize our own selves to ensure that we get to fill up those gaps of those businesses which have gone down. We create cooperatives in the country which can take serious responsibility of running some of those you know in a different manner,” Mr. Yaluma stated.

The Minister cited the cassava value chain, which is being supported by Zambian Breweries, adding that it has created a huge number of out grower schemes across the country so that they can supply to breweries company which produces beer.

He further stressed the need for Zambians to buy more of locally produced goods so as to support not only manufactures but also keep business running.

Mr. Yaluma disclosed that there was a larger free trading area in the Africa Continent apart from the SADC and COMESA market that local manufacturers should take advantage of so that Zambia can be a competitor in the continent with quality products.

“We are on the SADC market, we are also on COMESA, but there is a wider large market coming on the Africa Continental Free Trade Area where everyone who thinks is a supplier, is a producer can take his item and sell all over Africa. But to achieve that, we must start right now and taste our produce that they are of competitive quality and that they can sell there,” the Minister explained.

He noted that the country can then export non-traditional items like minerals and grain as the number of manufacturers would increase.

The Minister was reacting to President Edgar Lungu’s address at the fifth session of the 12th National assembly, today.

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