Irrigation key in growing output to meet market demand – Says Zambeef

By Published On: May 16th, 2017Categories: News

LUSAKA, ZAMBIA – Irrigation can help improve productivity for Zambia’s farmers, a necessity as the country continues to experience increasing growth in market demand for agricultural produce, Zambeef Joint Chief Executive Officer Francis Grogan has told Parliamentarians.

“Demand for food and agriculture-based products in Africa is expected to reach US$1 trillion by 2030 and Zambia needs to be ready to tap into this opportunity. Establishing sustainable policies on issues such irrigation will be key in reducing uncertainty in production and putting farming at the heart of Zambian economic development,” said Mr Grogan, who was speaking as the team of Zambian Parliamentarians toured Zambeef’s Huntley Farm in Chisamba recently.

Mr Grogan pointed to the fact that irrigation would help to ensure farmers were able to grow crops on a much larger scale, multiple times in a year.

The food processing and retailing giant has large row cropping operations – principally maize, soya beans and wheat – with approximately 7,971 hectares of row crops under irrigation, planted twice a year, and a further 8,623 hectares of rain-fed/dry-land crops available for planting every.

Speaking on behalf of the seven Parliamentarians, Chairperson for Parliamentarian Committee on Agriculture and Livestock Maxas Ng’onga said Zambeef was one of the major stakeholders in the sector and played an important role in understanding irrigation in the country.

“We wanted to find out some of the challenges big institutions like Zambeef face in establishing irrigation so that we can have policy influence within the government agricultural system,” said Mr Ng’onga.

“Zambeef is the major player in the agricultural sector and one can see how they have improved the value chain, livestock and cropping. So many farmers look up to it for markets and consumers depend on Zambeef for produce,” Mr Ngonga added.

The tour by the committee of Parliamentarians was part of a national study on irrigation systems and aimed at tackling some of the challenges that agriculture companies face in the country.

“Farmers respond to market needs and the projections for food and agriculture-based products demand in Africa for 2030 should spur confidence in the sector and bring about increased investment over the coming years,” he added.

Mr Grogan encouraged farmers across the country to not just focus on increased production but ensure that the quality of produce is maintained as well. He further called on them to begin viewing farming as a way to create wealth both at individual and national levels as opposed to purely a means of sustenance.

“It is clear that agriculture is a critical factor in the economic transformation of Zambia, in addition to the mines. The urgency with which the task of developing the sector must be undertaken cannot be over-emphasised. Agriculture must be presented not only as a means of earning a livelihood for farmers but as a genuine tool for wealth creation; farmers must learn to look at agriculture as a business capable of generating wealth,” said Mr Grogan, who emphasised the need for farmers to think beyond primary production and look at ways to add value to turn Zambian produce into finished products.

This would in turn lead to the establishment of new industries, employment creation as well as generation of much-needed revenue in tax and foreign exchange earnings from exports, and ensuring food security, he noted.

Zambeef exports to Angola, Zimbabwe, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Malawi, Kenya and Mozambique, creating a market in the region for Zambian agricultural goods.

However, Mr Grogan cautioned that this alone would not enable the sector to achieve its full potential, but rather a concerted effort was needed from all stakeholders, investment in technology and infrastructure, and deliberate policies would encourage the growth of local industries.

“While we are aware that market demand drives productivity, Zambeef is sensitive to the fact that other vital factors such as road infrastructure, storage and inputs among other things require equal consideration; only when the production stage works to mirror the market demand and vice versa will our farmers have the opportunity to really develop and increase their capacity,” added Mr Grogan.

In the case of livestock, over 90 per cent of cattle in Zambia are reared by small-scale farmers, for which Zambeef provides a huge, ready market for their produce. The dairy sector is another rapidly developing sector where demand for milk currently out-strips supply.

Zambeef has invested heavily in its Kalundu Dairy Farm, with state-of-the-art facilities to enhance milk production. A further milk processing plant has been set up in Mongu where the company is working to develop more local dairy farmers. This has not only providing a ready market for dairy farmers but has also significantly reduced the risk of milk spoilage during transit.

Zambeef is also one of the largest buyers of maize and soya from small-scale farmers for its Novatek stockfeed operations.

Zambeef has been working closely with stakeholders including various government ministries, non-government organisations (NGOs) and farmers across the country to enhance the efficiency and productivity in the value chains that feed into its operations.

About Zambeef Products Plc

Zambeef Products Plc is the largest integrated agribusiness and food processing company in Zambia and one of the largest in the region.

The group is principally involved in the production, processing, distribution and retailing of beef, chicken, pork, milk, dairy products, eggs, stockfeed and flour. The group also has large row cropping operations (principally maize, soya beans and wheat), planting 16,500 hectares in summer and 8,000 hectares in winter. The group is also expanding its West Africa operations in Nigeria and Ghana.

The company slaughters around 70,000 beef cattle, 6.75million chickens and 70,000 pigs per annum, while also processing 16 million litres of milk, producing 150,000 tons of stockfeed, 60 million eggs, 78,000 pairs of shoes and processes 97,500 hides in its tannery per year.
It has 177 retail outlets throughout Zambia and West Africa.

Zambeef employs over 6,000 people with a total of K307 million paid in remuneration and benefits in the last year, and contributed K144m to Government in taxes and duties.

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