The rice industry in Zambia has the potential to grow and create jobs yet is faced with limitations resulting from importation of Nakonde and Thai rice.

This growing concern has enabled rice traders to appeal to the government to consider imposing a ban on the importation of the commodity to boost local production.

Speaking on behalf of traders from Lusaka and Coppertbelt provinces at Niza Rice Mills in Isoka on Wednesday, Ms Jean Mukwanda said Zambia has potential to grow enough rice to sustain the local requirements.

“There are a lot of areas in this country where they grow good quality rice, like Mongu, Kasama, Chama and Isoka. They use improved rice seed which cannot even be compared to imported Thai rice.” Mukwanda said.

Mukwanda further stated that this will improve the livelihood of the farmers because apart from a few benefits accrued from importing rice, it only results in cash freight from the nation.

An appeal to the Ministry of Agriculture to establish rice outgrower schemes for small scale farmers in areas where rice is produced has been made.

Mukwanda added that Isoka, Kasama, Mongu, Chama and Siwang’andu had huge potential for rice production and could be promoted through establishment of out grower schemes.

“Zambia, including some neighbouring countries, will provide readily available markets for the locally produced rice which will be milled and packaged within the province once out grower schemes are established.”