The Ministry of Commerce, Trade and Industry has urged small and medium agro entreprenuers (SMAEs) to improve product packaging for easy penetration on local and international markets. Ms. Lilian Bwalya, Director of Foreign Trade, said SMAEs in Zambia must find the packaging they need to protect and reinforce the value of their products at an affordable price.

She was speaking on behalf of Minister of Commerce, Trade and Industry, Christopher Yaluma at the 18th edition of the World Export Development Forum (WEDF) in Lusaka today. She said local enterprises need better packaging, traceability and labelling so that the quality of goods can stand out and be appreciated by users confident of their quality, safety and composition.

Ms. Bwalya stated that Zambia like other countries, desperately needs facilities to allow new packaging designs to be tested, information platforms to inform processors about available materials and equipment, and advisory support services to help enterprises adapt production and product design to reduce costs, product waste and pollution.

“Small and medium agro-enterprises (SMAEs) need proper packaging to protect and reinforce the value of their products at an affordable price,” said Ms. Bwalya. She also said there is need to attract investors to develop scalable and recyclable packaging manufacturing facilities close to agri-food small and medium entrepreneurs.

Ms. Bwalya further stated that efforts must be made towards improving local trade and business development services to improve smes capabilities and capacity to support sustainability needs of the public. “Government highly emphasises the need for packaging manufacturers to invest and create jobs in manufacturing sector to service the growing number of enterprises in the surrounding region that need good quality sustainable packaging,” said the Director Foreign Trade, Ms.Bwalya.

She added that government has taken a deliberate step to encourage public-private partnership initiatives to attract sufficient financing and expertise for climate change mitigation, adaptation and sustainable production. And The International Trade Centre (ITC) has said agri-food and agri-business contribute highly to formal and informal economies as well as employment across African countries.

ITC Deputy Executive Director, Dorothy Tembo said majority of the people in the Sub-Saharan Africa are in informal employment but face major challenges which inhibit their progression and must be urgently addressed.

“Smes face intense competition from imports of processed and packaged foods as they are unable to compete due to lack of resources and appropriate facilities to attractively market their products,” said Ms. Tembo. She added that there is need to reduce distortions on the costs of packaging and labelling as well as provide information and advice on good packaging materials to smes to increase their chances of market infiltration.

In her final remarks, Ms. Tembo said entrepreneurs must be trained, educated as well as put in place packaging manufacturing facilities to respond to package user demands.

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