Goverment has directed the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) to work with the Cotton Association of Zambia (CAZ) and Mumbwa Farmers Ginning and Pressing Company to establish a cotton out-grower scheme that will feed into Mulungushi Textiles.

Recently, President Lungu re-commissioned Mulungushi Textiles that is expected to create 20,000 jobs and provide a ready market for cotton farmers.

Officiating at the African cotton promotion and value addition dissemination workshop yesterday, Minister of Commerce, Trade and Industry Margaret Mwanakatwe said Government will continue to promote the implementation of policies and programmes that support the growth of the textile and garment sector in the country.

“We are determined to revamp the textile and garment sector because the sector has vast potential to spur economic diversification. Furthermore, the sector also offers opportunities for technological innovation and adaptation for the engineering sector in the production of handloom equipment that will result in wealth and job creation,” she said.

Ms Mwanakatwe is saddened that over 90 percent of cotton and related products is exported without value addition.

“It is for this reason that Government has directed the IDC to put in place measures to resuscitate operations of Mulungushi Textiles in collaboration with the Cotton Association, Cotton Board and the Cotton Development Trust.

“I want to remind all concerned parties to implement the directive to the letter in order for us to increase production and productivity of our farmers. It is the desire of the ministry to see small-scale farmers, spinners, weavers and garment makers to effectively utilise opportunities offered in this sector for better incomes and livelihoods,” she said.

Earlier, CAZ chairman Christopher Mweetwa commended Government and cooperating partners for continued support to the sector.

And CAZ national coordinator Joseph Nkole said the European Union, International Trade Centre and Food Agriculture Organisation have been supporting training programmes for local farmers since 2006.

“This has helped to change the way we conduct business since we are now able to add value to the cotton. Also, the increase in textile companies is creating a market for farmers,” he said.