[dropcaps]Z[/dropcaps]ambeef Products has pledged its long-term commitment to the agriculture sector and urged other farmers to follow its lead in developing the sector for generations to come.
“Farmers need to move away from the idea of short-term investments in the hopes of making quick returns and see agriculture for what it truly is: a long-term commitment,” said Zambeef Joint Chief Executive Officer Francis Grogan, who emphasised the broad-based nature of the food company’s shareholding structure, in which every working Zambian has a stake through the National Pension Scheme Authority (NAPSA), which is Zambeef’s single largest Zambian shareholder.
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 are also shareholders in the company.
“Zambeef has been a proudly Zambian company working with local farmers to bring value-added local produce to our customers. Over the many years of operations we have come to learn and understand that there are no shortcuts in farming. It takes both dedication and perseverance. Some the commitments come in the form of relationships. Relationships; whether farmer to farmer, customer, government, financial institutions etc., play a vital role in sustaining the agriculture sector,” added Mr Grogan.
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.
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.
Zambeef’s massive investment over the years in infrastructure, skills training, development of out-grower schemes and many more ventures has contributed towards the economic and social wellbeing of the country through the creation of employment, tax payable to the state as well as corporate social investment programmes. The company employs more than 6, 000 staff.
“I was very well surprised; the landscape and climate here we noted is similar to some parts of Brazil. Zambia has the potential to play an important role in agriculture… we face similar challenges… although at different levels, such as logistics and infrastructure,” said Fabiana Alves, Executive Director for Rural Banking, Rabobank Brazil, commenting on Africa and Zambia in particular being said to be next to experience an agriculture revolution.
Ms Alves further pointed out the need for financial institutions to information and knowledge as well as long-term relationships with farmers, which requires proximity as well as an intimate understanding of the client’s business.
Brazil is one of the world’s leading agricultural countries and a major exporter of soya beans, grains, cotton and beef.
The group comprised second and third generation farmers who are thought to be the next agriculture leaders in Brazil. The annual programme by Rabobank seeks to expose them to an international perspective of farming as well as farming management at both small-scale and commercial levels.
Zambeef adopts 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 value chain.
Zambeef Products Plc is the largest integrated agribusinesses in Zambia.
The group is principally involved in the production, processing, distribution and retailing of beef, chicken, pork, milk, dairy products, eggs, stock feed and flour. The group also has large row cropping operations (principally maize, soya beans and wheat), with approximately 8,150 hectares of row crops under irrigation which is planted twice a year and a further 8,480 hectares of rain-fed/dry-land crops available for planting each year. The group is also in the process of rolling out its West Africa expansion in Nigeria and Ghana, as well as developing a palm project in Zambia.
It slaughters around 55,000 beef cattle, 50,000 pigs and 6 million chickens, and processes 10 million litres of milk per year. The company has 120 retail outlets throughout the country, along with three wholesale depots.