TBY talks to Ashok Oza, Managing Director, Saro Agro Industrial Ltd, on the sector.

Ashok Oza

How do you assess the trajectory of mechanization in Zambia?

In 2014, the funding options were limited, which had a detrimental effect on mechanization. In 2017, government financing institutions are providing funds particularly tailored to civil servants, which will boost the market. Traditional funding sources such as banks, particularly the National Savings and Credit Bank, have eased off on their terms, with lower interest rates and more relaxed conditions, and we hope that too will improve access to financing for many small and emerging companies. Zambia is fortunate with its abundant land, as well as neighbors, such as Angola and the DRC, which rely on imports.

What measures would help insulate the agricultural sector in Zambia from external factors that reduce growth?

There is a limited amount that the government can do. It is in the process of constructing dams, which will mitigate future energy crises, and is an extremely positive development. It needs to improve extension services and also review its maize policy. Zambia's farming industry revolves around maize, encouraging exports to nearby countries. This will primarily impact the small-scale sector, since 60-70% of maize is grown by small-scale farmers, and could be a catalyst for growth.