April 27, 2016
Zambeef calls for action on regional agro-processing investment
Zambia must take action to invest in industrialisation in order to be competitive and take advantage of the business opportunities in the region, Zambeef's joint chief executive officer Dr Carl Irwin told delegates at the fifth Zambian International Investment Forum (ZIIF).
"Zambeef strongly believes in Zambia's potential to feed itself and the region given its abundant resources; good soils, climate, readily available as well as the ability to produce most crops given the right investment. But only in adding value to our produce, can we fully realise the sector's full potential," said Dr Irwin, who was speaking at the opening of the high-level conference, which was officially launched by H.E. the President, Hon. Edgar Chagwa Lungu and attended by Minister of Commerce, Trade and Industry Hon. Margaret Mwanakatwe.
During the forum, themed "Investment for Industrialisation, Wealth and Job Creation", Dr Irwin appealed to participants in the agribusiness sector to embrace and invest in new technologies that would help transform the agriculture sector into a more efficient production base that can then allow the sector to tap into wider regional markets.
Zambeef is one of Zambia's leading agribusiness and food processor due to unrelenting investments on the part of the company, Dr Irwin explained. The group has invested heavily in cropping, livestock and manufacturing divisions as well as skills development equipping both employees and small-scale farmers involved in the value-addition chain.
Dr Irwin highlighted some of the benefits of focusing on value adding operations and the opportunities presented for the national economy; increased national food security, social development in rural areas, job creation, and tax and duty generated as result.
Zambeef alone has generated US$220 million in revenue for the financial year 2015 and US$38 million of foreign exchange income for the nation. It also invested more than US$150 million in the last eight years, employed more than 6,000 staff and contributed US$18 million in tax and duty paid to the Zambian government in FY 2015.
Dr Irwin also stressed the importance of developing and strengthening local capacity in order to achieve a more streamlined development across the sector.
"Small to medium scale farmers play a vital role in the value chain. For example, over 90% of livestock in the country is in the hands of these farmers. Zambeef has partnered with the farmers at different levels in effect providing a ready market for their products as well as linkages to local and external markets. By further equipping the farmers with technical knowledge and skills, we hope to improve productivity and quality of livestock and produce in the country," Dr Irwin said.
Zambeef's own continued investments in development projects, such as Zampalm in Mpika, are set to see Zambia become self-dependant in edible oils saving the country over US$70 million in annual imports of the commodity. Other projects like Zamhatch in Mpongwe and investment in state-of-the-art dairy facilities will increase production of poultry and dairy products in the country with Zamhatch slated to be one of the largest hatchery facilities in the region.
Dr Irwin stressed the importance of Public-Private Partnership in both infrastructure development and policy development, calling on the private and public sectors to come together in investing for a successful agriculture and agro-processing sector focused on value-addition towards the creation of sustainable wealth and jobs for Zambia.
"The opportunities for both local and foreign investment are massive all of which have the potential for further growth and having a spill-over effect on Zambia's agro-processing industry as well as the regions. Our challenge to Zambian entrepreneurs is to get out there and make use of these opportunities to grow our industries," he concluded.