AFGRI, a leading South African agriculture service company says Zambia is one of the most attractive agricultural investment destination on the African continent.
Company Chief Executive Officer Norman Celliers said Zambia has an advanced agriculture sector which made it the best investment destination in the region.
He was speaking at the AFGRI offices in Centurion,South Africa when he held a meeting with Zambia’s High Commissioner to that country Major General Jackson Miti.
Mr. Celliers said Zambia had unique capacity to grow and supply the SADC region with various foods owing to her rich soils and central geographical location.
He mentioned that his company was in the process of concentrating more on agriculture development in Zambia
And Major General Miti said government was engaging various stakeholders to ensure improved productivity and competitiveness in the agriculture sector.
He said government had embarked on a process of developing a crop marketing and export policy.
Major General Miti thanked AFGRI for its contribution to the growth of Zambia’s agriculture sector.
This is according to a press statement issued Mrs Naomi Nyawali, First Secretary Press and Public Relations at the Zambia High Commission in South Africa.
Remove taxes on agriculture products, Emmanuel Mwamba says
Chifwani Concepts promoter, Mr. Emmanuel Mwamba has called on government to remove taxes on agricultural products and the value chain.
Mr. Mwamba, who is also Zambia’s Ambassador to Ethiopia, said this when Chifwani Concepts, a social enterprise that promotes the farming of cassava, received motor bikes to be used in extension services.
Mr. Mwamba said the execrise tax imposed on manufacturers using agricultural products, hindered the growth of the sector and made farmers suffer little revenue from their products.
He said he learnt that Zhongkai International Ltd and other companies pay huge taxes for production of industrial products derived from agricultural raw materials.
He said such taxes were suitable to be passed on to the end-user than intermediary entities such as Zhongkai International.
He said the agriculture sector presented the biggest economic opportunity for the country and reliable income and livelihoods for small holder farmers in rural areas.
And Mr. Mwamba said the motor bikes, weighing scales, cassava cuttings and tents will help coordinate the production of cassava.
He also announced that Chifwani Concepts will open offices in Petauke and Mongu Districts next month.
He called on people having tracts of land that lay idle to get in touch with his office to help them use it for cassava.
He said his collaboration with Musika has helped Chifwani Concepts access high-yielding cassava cuttings.
He said Chifwani Concepts will ensure that small-holder farmers derived benefits from cash crops such as cassava to help with government diversification programme.
Last month, Chifwani Concepts signed an off-take Agreement with Zhongkai International for the supply of cassava.
Cassava is used as.a raw material in the production of industrial products such as ethanol, fertiliser, and animal feed.
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.
Small-scale supplier the ultimate winner in partnership with Shoprite Zambia
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.