THE Mweemba family’s fortunes have undergone considerable change since they became the first local supplier of fresh vegetables to Shoprite Zambia, when the retailer entered this market 25 years ago.
The late Ezekiel Collin Mweemba started subsistence farming after he lost his job at the end of 1994 when the national carrier, Zambia Airways, was liquidated. His cousin told him about Freshmark, the fresh produce procurement arm of Shoprite, and so a mutually beneficial business relationship started, which fuelled the growth of his business, ECM Farms, managed these days by his daughter, Mazuba Mweemba Songwe.
ECM Farms provide the retailer with leafy vegetables like rape, spinach, Kalembula, Chibwabwa, Chinese cabbage and Bondwe. “Our growth has been phenomenal. We would never have crossed over to small-scale commercial farming had it not been for the ongoing support from Shoprite Zambia.
“In 1995 my father was the only one farming, but today we have six permanent and four part-time employees. Our business generates a steady annual income from activities on our farm, some 20km from the Shoprite distribution centre outside Lusaka,” says Mazuba.
Almost 90% of the fresh produce available in Shoprite Zambia’s supermarkets is sourced locally. The retailer started with only four suppliers in 1995 and grew that number to the current 127 supplying to its supermarkets today. “We specialise in establishing long-term partnerships with local suppliers, so that their enterprises can grow alongside our business to the benefit of many more Zambians,” explains Charles Bota, General Manager of Shoprite Zambia.
Mazuba believes that the greatest benefit of supplying a world-class retailer is the “large, steady market” it provides for their produce. “Also, a big player like Shoprite has a significant influence on pricing and ensures that we are able to sell our vegetables to others at more competitive prices.”
“Due to the stringent standards required by Freshmark, the quality of our crops keep on improving, which means we are able to provide all our clients with first grade vegetables,” describes Mazuba.
Skills development is yet another positive outcome of this fruitful partnership. Employees of ECM Farms’ skills set now includes food processing and packaging which as it adds value to the produce they sell to Shoprite Zambia.
ZNFU supports government’s move to restrict the importation of onions and potatoes
THE Zambia National Farmers Union (ZNFU) has backed Government’s move to restrict the importation of onions and potatoes.
In a statement, ZNFU media and public relations officer, Calvin Kaleyi said the union supports Government policy as it will promotes local production of all agricultural products.
He said the move will further impact positively on the commodity value chains.
“ZNFU is confident that producers are capable of expanding production because there are examples where this has happened such as the wheat industry where import substitution has happened. And, the potato industry is another case in point.
We therefore implore the Ministry of Agriculture to remain resolute in its policy implementation and not to be swayed in any way because regulation of imported agriculture products should go beyond onions and potatoes but to include all commodities which we have comparative advantage to produce,” Mr Kaleyi said.
He said the continued importation of some commodities erodes jobs locally, more so at a time when the country is experiencing domestic currency fluctuations, making it difficult to plan.
Mr Kaleyi further said reducing on importations of agricultural commodities which can be supplied locally will have a profound positive impact on Zambia’s trade balance thus easing deterioration of the local currency and guarantee some level of stability.
He said turning to importation at this time is tantamount to economic sabotage.
Mr Kaleyi said Zambia has capacity to produce all its domestic food and manufacturing requirements .
“It is for this reason that we support the buy Zambia campaign and are available to partner with off-takers.
If any imports of certain commodities arise, it must be industry regulated to cater for lean supply periods and this should be determined by a broad stakeholder engagement process hence only allowed for a set period,” Mr Kaleyi said.
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K 5.7 billion allocated for FISP to benefit 1 million small-scale farmers
MINISTER of Finance Dr. Bwalya Ng’andu has disclosed that government has allocated a whopping K5.7billion for the Farmer Input Support Programme (FISP) to support over one million small-scale farmers in the 2020-2021 farming season.
Presenting the national budget in the National Assembly, Dr. Ngandu said government had also allocated K517.5million for the national food strategic reserve.
“Mr. Speaker, the Economic Affairs function has been allocated a total of K21.5 billion,” he said.
“Notable expenditures include K5.7 billion on the Farmer Input Support Programme (FISP), targeting one million farmers across the country”, he said.
“Further, for the country to be food secure, I have set aside K517.5million for the national strategic food reserve”, he said
Dr. Ngandu also announced support to the livestock sector by promoting a programme to restock and control cattle diseases.
“Sir, to promote the livestock sub-sector, Government will continue with the Livestock Stocking and Restocking Programme out of which at least 30 percent of the beneficiaries are youths”, he said
“In the first half of 2020, a total of 3,100 households benefitted from the Programme. With regard to animal
health, a total of 283,000 animals
have been vaccinated out of the 2020 target of 290,000 under the Livestock Vaccination Programme”, he said.
He also announced a loan programme in the agriculture sector to primarily benefit young people.
“Mr Speaker, Government is
implementing the Zambia Aquaculture Enterprise Development
Project aimed at stimulating a viable aquaculture sub-sector”, he said
“In 2020, the Project, through the Citizens Economic Empowerment
Commission(CEEC), has disbursed loans worth K6.3 million to 637 aquaculture entrepreneurs”, He said
“These loans are targeted at empowering youths and women “. he said