PRETORIA – 1ST OCTOBER, 2015 – A group of South African farmers plans to invest about US$ 100 million in the Zambian agricultural sector within their first year of operations.
Agri Zambia Managing Director, Mr. Landon Romano, who is coordinating the investors, has said that the farmers hope to start before the end of this year once they secure land and water resources in Zambia.
The farmers then intend to make an investment of at least USD $100 million annually over the next decade.
Mr. Romano has said that initial interests include farming areas in both the identified farming blocks as well as in agricultural property that is commercially available. The produce and livestock the group intends to cultivate and harvest includes, but not limited to, sugar cane, maize, soya, wheat, cotton, groundnuts, macadamia nuts, cattle, goats, and fisheries.
Mr. Romano said the group will also be committed to establishing aquaponics and other key industry supportive products and services with value-added services, such as food processing.
“More importantly this group has established ways to transfer skill sets and knowledge to local Zambian farmers. The group firmly believes that the main way to lift up a nation is to provide both the infrastructure and education for the people to empower themselves.
“Agri Zambia is in the process of strengthening its relations with the University of Africa situated in Lusaka as it is foreseen to be a key contributor to the agricultural training programmes,” Mr. Romano said.
He was speaking when he led a team of prospective investors to a meeting with Zambia’s High Commissioner – Designate to South Africa His Excellency Mr. Emmanuel Mwamba on Wednesday. Others who accompanied Mr. Romano were Mr. Jakkie Oosthuizen, Marketing Manager of Senter360 and also Business Developer for Agri all Africa and Mr. Eddie Kanes, a Commercial Farmer in South Africa.
Agri Zambia, which is a platform recently established by merging two stakeholders; The Global Steward and Agri All Africa (AaA) is working to facilitate agricultural investments by clients from South Africa and further afield.
The group plans to develop the so-called “Agri-Parks,” which Mr. Romano said has given a lot of valuable lessons looking at it from the Democratic Republic of Congo, where a similar model has already been implemented.
Mr. Romano said Agri-Zambia also intends to establish farmers’ markets, which would be driven by AaA, in order to distribute the produce and livestock on behalf of its Agri-Park and any other local farmers interested in participating. These activities are earmarked for the locations identified for primary produce and will be developed to serve the export market, as well.
“Agri Zambia is proud to declare their shared passion for Africa, which keeps the group progressing toward the same interests in lifting up the persons on the continent. Each person individually and collectively as a group has a heart for Africa and in particular has grown especially fond of Zambia and her people.
“Agri Zambia by way of Agri All Africa probably represents the biggest bulk of potential commercial farmers on its database, ready to do investments in suitable destinations, such as Zambia. The fact these investors are screened and thereafter diligently supported to do the right thing, accentuates the importance of the emphasis on ‘starting right’,” Mr Romano said.
Mr. Romano noted that AaA Chief Executive Officer Mr. Dirk Hanekom, described Zambia after his recent visit in August as “God’s own country and an inspiration to South Africans.”
He said Mr. Hanekom’s view was that Agri Zambia had, therefore, all the more reason to stand firm on its value based approach and value propositions to both investor and the Zambian people.
High Commissioner Mr. Mwamba advised the group to also consider partnering with the Government and take up parastatal farms, such as Kalungwishi Cattle Ranch, which had remained idle for long periods.
Mr. Mwamba further advised Agri Zambia to design their projects on the model of out-grower schemes in order to give a sense of ownership to communities.
He hailed the group for considering investing in Zambia saying this was the right time as the country was working on diversifying its economy to various agricultural activities coupled with other sectors of the economy.
The High Commissioner said Zambia has always relied on small scale farming methods noting that Agri Zambia’s entering of the market will help mechanise the sector.
Mr. Mwamba advised interested parties in Zambia and beyond to contact the Zambian High Commission in Pretoria or Mr. Romano by email at firstname.lastname@example.org in order for them to get more information on how the projects will work.
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