FINANCE MINISTER UPBEAT ON ZAMPALM PROGRESS
By Chileshe Kandeta and Gillian Langmead at Langmead & Baker Ltd (0979) 060705
LUSAKA, ZAMBIA – Finance Minister Hon. Felix Mutati has praised the economic, social and environment impact of the Zampalm plantation in Muchinga during a visit to the project on Sunday (December 10).
The model public-private partnership between the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) and Zambeef Products.
The local production and processing of crude palm oil is expected to drastically reduce Zambia’s dependence on the commodity as well as edible oil imports, heard Mr Mutati, who was accompanied by IDC chief executive officer Mateyo Cresta Kaluba and Zambeef chairman Dr Jacob Mwanza.
“It’s amazing that we are now able to harvest; that they are able to produce palm oil and they are able to sell. The passion and the commitment of the workers is incredible, the determination of management is immeasurable. It’s a very satisfying project not only for the local area but for all of us,” said Mr Mutati.
His Royal Highness, Senior Chief Copa of the Kopa Chiefdom expressed delight at the development taking place in the area as it is improving the livelihood of residents stating that: “From the time Zampalm came to this place, my chiefdom is not as it was before. We have benefited so much and the presence of the Zampalm in the area has changed the lives of the people.”
The plantation in Mpika District, Muchinga Province, is set to be a centre of development as the country seeks to grow its agro-processing capacity and create a strong manufacturing base.
Zambeef’s Dr Mwanza said: “Zambeef took on a bold and pioneering spirit to start the project. It is a developmental project; developing people around here and will make even more significant contribution to the edible oil industry in our country. It’s so important that we partner with IDC because of the developmental nature of this project. We wanted it to remain Zambian and to contribute to the development of this part of our beloved republic and that as we go along, Zambia will one day be an exporter of palm oil instead of importing.”
He further noted that: “Engaging the community involved in the project will help generate employment and sustainable economic growth in the area. The palm plant is the most efficient oil producing plant and can be harvested for 25 years and as long as the tree continues to yield a harvest, it provides farmers with an additional crop aside from the traditional cassava and maize.”
The plantation reflects, among others, one of the 7th National Development Plan (7NDP) 2017-2021 goals which is, “to accelerate diversification in production and export of non-traditional commodities in agriculture… through product and market diversification, value addition, enhanced productivity’ targeted at domestic and international markets.
The Zampalm project was launched in 2009 and currently has some 409,506 palms planted over an area of 2,873 hectares in the main plantation with a further 300 hectares which will be planted before the end of the year, with another 96,000 seedlings in the main and pre-nursery.
In 2015 Zampalm commissioned its first US$1 million crushing mill plant with a capacity of two tonnes of fresh palm fruit per hour. Work on doubling this crushing plant will be completed in the next 15 months.
Zambia’s oil imports stand at over US$70 million every year, a costly exercise for the country which consumes around 120,000 tonnes of cooking oil, but only produces 30-50 percent of the total supply, with more than half of the country’s edible oil consumption coming from the Far East, East Africa and South Africa.
The continued dependence on imports for finished consumer products, intermediate inputs and machinery across different sectors negatively affects the country’s performance with regard to the trade balance and economic resilience, in addition to an excessive foreign currency drain and deterioration of exchange rates.
In addition to the commercial and economic benefits of the Zampalm plantation, the initiative has provided a number of social and environmental benefits, including the creation of employment and infrastructure in a remote area suffering high poverty levels.
An outgrower scheme, set up for small-scale farmers in the area, will also enable them to participate in the palm oil production business. Farmers will be provided with the seedlings, training and inputs required in managing their farms. The harvested fruit will then be sold back to Zampalm for processing at its crushing plant, providing a ready market.
With Zambia’s realigned focus on industrialisation, the country is expected to see an increase in demand for palm oil as new industries and markets are created.
Once fully operational, Zampalm also presents opportunities for exports to neighbouring countries in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) such as the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Angola, which are also massive importers.
Palm oil is the world’s most used and versatile vegetable oil. In addition to cooking oil, its derivatives are found in foods such as margarines and ice cream and is also used as a thickener, preservative and antioxidant. It is also found in personal care products, such as shampoo and cosmetics, industrial goods, such as lubricants, paints and inks, as well as renewable fuel.
About Zambeef Products Plc
Zambeef Products Plc is the largest integrated cold chain food products and agribusiness company in Zambia and one of the largest in the region, involved in the primary production, processing, distribution and retailing of beef, chicken, pork, milk, eggs, dairy products, fish, flour and stockfeed, throughout Zambia and the surrounding region, as well as Nigeria and Ghana.
The Group is also one of the largest cereal row cropping operations in Zambia, with approximately 7,787 hectares of row crops under irrigation which are planted twice a year, and a further 8,694 hectares of rainfed/dry-land crops available for planting each year.
The company slaughters around 78,000 beef cattle, 7.3 million chickens and 60,000 pigs per annum, while also processing 19 million litres of milk, producing 154,000 tons of stockfeed, 69 million eggs, 68,000 pairs of shoes and processes 100,000 hides in its tannery per year.
It has 195 retail outlets throughout Zambia and West Africa.
Zambeef employs over 7,000 people with a total of K357 million paid in remuneration and benefits in the last year.
More information is available at www.zambeefplc.com