Mining giant cosponsors Hematon youth and women agricultural summit

First Quantum Minerals through Kansanshi Mining Mining Plc recently co-sponsored the Hematon Youth and Women Agricultural Summit, which took place in Lusaka. Local youth were encouraged to take up a more active and productive role in the agriculture and livestock sector to become more self-reliant.

The summit was organised by Hematon Agro Services, a youth-led Agro produce supply and marketing company that works with small scale farmers to provide fresh produce and help them grow their agribusiness. The event was graced by Headwoman, Mitadah Zulu of Chongwe and Zambia Development Agency Enterprise Development Specialist, Mr Andrew Hachibe.

Speaking to the theme of the event, “Let’s go agro”, Kansanshi Mining Plc Public Relations Manager, Mr Godfrey Msiska urged the youths and women in attendance to be driven and motivated as they sought to promote entrepreneurship among themselves, as youth are our future and women the stabilizing factor in development.

“The main objective of this event is to create a platform that will facilitate the linkages of producers, processors and consumers of agricultural products. These linkages are expected to create more opportunities for the youth, which will translate into much-needed employment for them. It is important to be driven and motivated as you pursue entrepreneurship. There is no need for you to wait to get into formal employment, as you can create opportunities for yourselves.” said Mr Msiska.

Mr Msiska further urged youths to promote conservation farming methods that would help sustain the ecosystem and also avoid climate change, emphasising that the youth had a critical role to play in the agriculture sector by participating in the planning, designing and implementation of modern farming methods and technologies that will ensure that the environment is not degraded.

First Quantum Minerals runs Agricultural Livelihoods Projects in the areas around its mining operations in Solwezi and Kalumbila. These projects aim to create opportunities in the agricultural sector for sustainable livelihoods. This is done by helping participants improve their yields through conservation farming methods. From its inception in 2010 to date, the programme has been helping farmers improve their yields up to 10 times more than before they joined the programme. The past 2020/2021 farming season yielded 9,000 tonnes of maize for the farmers in Solwezi District alone.

Mr Msiska reiterated that the ethos of First Quantum Minerals was to train people how to be self-reliant through these training programmes, adding that the company believes in empowering people through skills training, as this has a far more lasting effect on the communities.

Speaking at the same event, Zambia Development Agency Enterprise Development Specialist, Mr Andrew Hachibe, said the summit should have taken place immediately after the ZDA undertook a trade mission to the Democratic Republic of Congo of which the majority of exhibitors were the youth and women.

“This alone shows the critical role that our youth and women play in national development. The ZDA has a mandate of promoting and facilitating trade, investment and enterprise development in the country and is proud to announce the opportunities available for youth and women in agriculture, financial linkages, access to markets, technology, machinery, capacity building programmes, product development and infrastructure development such as grain storage development.”

Mr Hachibe further urged youth and women to come up with grain storage mechanisms as a niche investment opportunity as small scale farmers needed these facilities.

Other speakers at the event shared the sentiments of First Quantum Minerals and the ZDA in encouraging the youth to look for opportunities in the agricultural sector, having the proper business structures in place to succeed. Good Nature Agro Chief Executive Officer, Carl Jensen shared that young agropreneurs should strive to provide services that answer the key questions that farmers ask to remain relevant in the sector.

In closing out the event, the Headwoman of Kabeleka Community in Chongwe, Mitadah Zulu, pleaded with the sponsors and other organisations present to help the many youths in her community who had no way to attend such events and gain valuable skills.