April 11, 2017
Skretting: Unlocking Zambia's potential through local investment
Skretting becomes the first global fish feed company to open a dedicated plant in Zambia.
The first dedicated fish feed plant in Zambia has been constructed by Skretting Africa to assist the country's fast-growing aquaculture industry reach its full potential. The investment is part of Skretting's 75/25 joint-venture with African Century Foods (ACF) for the production, sale and distribution of tilapia feed that was announced last year.
Within the African continent, there are a handful of regions where aquaculture is developing very quickly: Egypt is leading the way, followed by Nigeria. Also making its mark is Zambia, despite being constrained by irregular access to high-quality feeds, explains Rob Kiers, managing director of Skretting Africa.
"What Zambia does have is a tradition of eating fish and a shared ambition by government and industry to locally produce fresh fish for the domestic market thereby reducing the market's reliance on imports of frozen products. There is a clear vision from the country to become self-sufficient or at least largely self-sufficient for fish through aquaculture," says Kiers.
The new plant, which has a capacity of 35,000 tonnes of feed, is located at Siavonga on Lake Kariba, close to the main fish farming areas in both Zambia and Zimbabwe. The facility houses a dedicated line for extruded tilapia feed and a mash feed line for other animal species. A part of the capacity will be used to supply ACF's tilapia farms (Lake Harvest) with the remaining supply going to the wider southeast African region.
Test production at the new plant began in March with feeds being made available to the market in April.
"Combined with Zambia's culture of eating fish, which is not the case in all African countries, the country has all the right natural attributes to be a strategically important aquaculture market, including the availability of large bodies of excellent quality water and the ideal temperatures for rearing tilapia. It is also growing a lot of important raw materials like soya and maize," Kiers adds. "The fish are there, many of the raw materials are there so it is a great opportunity to make use of raw materials grown and processed locally. By doing this, the fish feed production will stimulate local community development and economic growth. From a sustainability point of view, this supports the United Nations sustainable development goals."
In addition to hiring many locals to work at the plant, Skretting Africa has hired an experienced general manager and a technical specialist who has a history of fish farming in Zambia and is tasked with helping progress the country's aquaculture development, while ensuring that the same robust standards, support and ways of working that are in place at all other locations operated by Skretting and parent company Nutreco are applied in the African country.
"Zambia will share the same Skretting philosophy: We will make good quality feed; make best use of our R&D; we will have local validation of those feeds; and we will also heavily invest in providing technical support to the industry," Kiers says. "We see this as a long-term investment. Because the Zambian aquaculture market is relatively small compared with some other markets, it is absolutely right that momentum should come from serious players like Skretting on the feed side and large fish farming companies like African Century Foods – together picking up the challenge to drive the market forward by investing in equipment, farming, training and management to really help the Zambian community produce sufficient volumes of fish."
Kiers is also pleased that since the announcement was made that Skretting Africa would be constructing a new plant in Zambia, other fish and animal feed companies have confirmed investment plans for the country.
"These markets have the potential to grow, but it takes more than one good player to unlock that potential in a sustainable way. I am very happy that other international companies are now also investing in African markets to really take them forward," Kiers comments. "It is widely expected that the population of the African continent will double in size in the coming decades so it will need to at least double its food production, which presents a huge challenge that can only be overcome by investing locally and producing food locally."
"Countries like Zambia have the basics to be an important producer of food for the wider region but it takes local investment to unlock that potential," Kier says. "We 100 percent believe in the potential of the continent and we really believe we should do it in Africa with Africans for Africa."