ZAMBEEF Products Plc has pledged its long-term commitment to Zambia’s agriculture sector and has urged other farmers to follow suit in developing farming for generations to come Zambeef joint chief executive officer Francis Grogan said farmers needed to move away from the idea of short-term investments in the hopes of making quick returns and see agriculture as a long-term commitment.
He said Zambeef had been working with local farmers to bring value-added local produce to their customers.
Mr Grogan was speaking after a group of Brazilian farmers toured ZAMBEEF’s Kalundu dairy farm in Chisamba as part of a farming exchange programme organised by the San Paulo branch of Netherlands bank Rabobank in conjunction with its Zambian affiliate Zambia National Commercial Bank (ZANACO) this week.
“Over the many years of operations we have come to learn and understand that there are no shortcuts in farming, and it takes both dedication and perseverance,” he said. He said Zambeef has approximately 8,150 hectares of row crops planted twice a year under irrigation and a further 8,480 hectares of rain-fed/dry-land crops available yearly.
“It slaughters around 55,000 beef cattle, 50,000 pigs and 6 million chickens, and processes 10 million litres of milk per year from its primary production division that has also incorporated small scale farmers enabling them to participate in the sector at a larger scale,” he said.
Mr Grogan said the company’s massive investment over the years in infrastructure, skills training, development of out-grower schemes and many more ventures had contributed towards the economic and social wellbeing of Zambia through the creation of employment, tax payable to the State as well as corporate social investment programmes.
He emphasized the broad-based nature of the food company’s shareholding structure, in which every working Zambian had a stake through the National Pension Scheme Authority (NAPSA), which is Zambeef’s single largest Zambian shareholder.
Mr Grogan cited Saturnia Regna Pension Fund, Barclays Bank Pension Fund, Bank of Zambia Pension Fund, Zambia State Insurance Company (ZSIC), KCM Pension Fund, Workers Compensation Fund and Professional Insurance Pension Fund as also shareholders in the company.
And Rabobank Brazil executive director for rural banking Fabiana Alves said Zambia had the potential to play an important role in agriculture.
Ms Alves said there was need for financial institutions to promote information and knowledge as well as long-term relationships with farmers, which required proximity as well as an intimate understanding of the client’s business.
“I am very well surprised; the landscape and climate here we noted is similar to some parts of Brazil, we face similar challenges although at different levels, such as logistics and infrastructure,” she said.
Brazil is one of the world’s leading agricultural countries and a major exporter of soya beans, grains, cotton and beef.
ZAMBEEF has adopted a similar approach to its out-grower schemes by sharing knowledge and technical advice in order to ensure consistent delivery of quality produce across it’s value chain.