PRETORIA – 22nd APRIL, 2016 – A group of leading South African farmers has met in that country as part of its mobilisation process aimed at transferring substantial portions of their wealth to investing in the agricultural sector in the rest of Africa, with Zambia being the top priority destination.
The farmers, who have been organised under the auspices of Agri All Africa (AaA), are focusing to invest in areas of fresh produce which include sugar cane, wheat, maize, soya beans; livestock products ranging from cattle to sheep to goats and chickens.
The AaA client-farmers have identified, among other countries; Zambia, Nigeria, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Angola, Mozambique, Malawi, Ivory Coast, Ethiopia, Tanzania, Namibia and Sudan as their immediate investment destinations.
Zambia has been pegged as number one priority because of its proximity to South Africa which made it easier for the farmers to drive their equipment into the country. Zambia has also been favoured because of her “friendliness in attracting foreign direct investment through the current policies”.
The resolutions were arrived at this week during a meeting held at Mr. Charl Senekal’s farm in KwaZulu-Natal. Mr. Senekal, who is AaA board member, is one of Africa’s largest sugar producers in Africa.
The meeting was convened to discuss acceleration of strengthening of management platforms to ensure the successful implementation of agriculture investments in prioritised destinations in Africa. The meeting also discussed current opportunities with the aim of aligning them to making a difference in agricultural development.
The participants who included client-farmers, AaA functionaries and board members, diplomatic representation, project managers and representatives from the agribusiness value chain looked at agricultural investment opportunities and how risk could be minimised in order to create assurance for the Africa option.
Consensus was achieved that cooperation among the key elements and actors was essential to reach properly managed and implementable projects that would change the lives of people on the ground as well as allow commercial viability for all stakeholders.
Mr. Senekal, who is keen to move his investment into Zambia as soon as suitable land was secured, pointed out that he would support projects that were processed through the AaA value chain.
AaA Chairman, Dr Theo de Jager, who is also President of the Pan African Farmers Organisation (PAFO) as well as Southern African Confederation of Agriculture Union (SACAU) noted that other farmers and role players should also have access to the investment opportunities as identified and processed by AaA.
Mr. Dirk Hanekom, CEO of AaA observed that the organization will now have more traction and improve its capacity to deliver following the appointment of qualified personnel in various positions. The appointments are those of Mr Landon Romano, Chief Financial Officer; Dr Johann Kotzé, Director – Strategic Development Planning, and Mr Johan Jonker, Project Developer for Western Africa with the emphasis on Nigeria.
“The amount of interested farmers who are contacting AaA on a daily basis have increased to such an extent that the capacity of AaA must be strengthened. We also need to give support to the AaA platforms that were formed in Zambia, Nigeria, DRC, and on the verge of being launched in Angola, Mozambique and Ethiopia,” Mr. Hanekom said.
Mr. Andre Botha, from AaA in Katanga Province of the DRC stated he had confidence in the organisation as it approached business opportunities with a full social upliftment agenda which was deemed critical for sustainability of farming operations in Africa.
The Zambian Government was represented by First Secretary in charge of Press and Public Relations at the Zambian High Commission in Pretoria Mr. Nicky Shabolyo, who confirmed Government’s commitment to supporting investors in the agricultural sector. Mr. Shabolyo highlighted practical aspects, such as the diversification of the economy, which enhanced implementation of projects in Zambia.
AaA, which was born out of South Africa’s commercial agricultural sector aims to support the development of commercial agriculture in Africa, which it has identified as a key driver of the continent’s economic development.
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