December 28, 2016
Zambian President launches planting season at Zambeef's Huntley Farm
Zambia's President Edgar Lungu demonstrated his farming ability when he visited Zambeef's Huntley Farm in early December to ensure the 2016-17 agricultural season got off to a good start, Zambeef reports.
Lungu showed his skills with a tractor and then used a hoe to plant, after urging farmers across the country to take advantage of the wider choice of crops now available to them under the Farmers' Input Support Programme (FISP). He called on farmers to vary their choice of crop and consider moving away from the traditional corn to include other options such as soybean, sorghum, cassava and cashew nuts.
"Agriculture should now be seen as a business and not simply a way of life. As a government, we are taking a proactive approach to actualise Zambia's agricultural potential," Lungu says. "The agriculture sector is a catalyst to all sectors in the country's economy, hence my government's emphasis on the important role agriculture needs to play in building a Zambia we will all be proud of."
The President was visiting Zambeef's Huntley Farm in Chisamba, along with Acting Agriculture Minister Dr. Chitalu Chilufya, representatives of the Zambia National Farmers' Union (ZNFU), including ZNFU president Jervis Zimba, government officials and farmers.
In welcoming the President and the invited guests, Zambeef joint chief executive officer Francis Grogan pointed out the need to strengthen the local agriculture sector, and its importance in driving the economic growth of the country and enhancing food security.
Grogan also highlighted the need to move away from a dependence on rain-fed agriculture in light of climate change concerns and explore alternate means such as irrigation and water harvesting to complement rainfall.
"We are a proudly Zambian company with a rich history of demonstrating how large companies such as Zambeef can co-exist successfully with small, medium and large-scale farmers the length and breadth of the country," Grogan says. "Small-scale farmers produce over 95% of our staple crop maize. They must be encouraged to produce more maize through using modern technology in cultivation and crop husbandry so their yield can increase. They must be assisted with access to irrigation. This is non-negotiable. Irrigation guarantees the farmer an excellent yield in his or her summer crop, usually maize or soya, and allows him or her additional income from a winter crop."
Zambeef has approximately 7,971 hectares of row cropping operations (principally corn, soya beans and wheat) which is planted twice a year. A further 8,623 hectares of rain-fed and dry-land crops is available for planting each year.
Zambeef also has in place a deliberate policy that ensures all its beef, dairy, poultry and pork is sourced from local farmers within the length and breadth of Zambia. The meat and dairy giant provides a huge and ready market for local produce as well as links to markets through its vast retail and distribution network.
Zambia National Farmers Union president Jervis Zimba echoed the President's sentiments and comments that agriculture should be the main focus around which other sectors should be developed in an integrated manner.
"Zambeef is among the few companies that has demonstrated that it is possible to build a successful agribusiness and agro-processing industry in Zambia," Zimba says. "Zambeef has been instrumental in pushing for 100% local production and we have seen the company achieve this with its 100% local procurement policy on all livestock. We are therefore able to see beef, dairy poultry and pork products on the shelves with some satisfaction that a Zambian farmer has a market for their produce."