Zambia covers 75 million hectares (752,000 km2), out of which 58 percent (42 million hectares) is classified as medium-to high-potential for agriculture production.
However, only 15 percent of this land is currently under cultivation.
The country, however, seems to be making significant stride in so far as embracing its agribusiness potential is concerned.
Eight of its country based businesses are making strides in areas such as edible oil production, meat processing and fresh produce markets.
This publication takes a look at the eight businesses.
- Soya bean trader expands business by manufacturing edible oil
Sarah Ngwenya founded Zambia-based Kalomo Grain Marketing Limited (KGML) in 2011. Initially focused on soya bean trading, the company expanded into producing and exporting edible oil under the brand Supreme Oil. Despite securing interest from a company in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), KGML faces capacity limitations, which led Ngwenya to seek funding for a new processing plant to increase production. The company aims to expand into markets such as the DRC and the US while maintaining a diversified income from by-products like soya bean cake.
- Businessman taps into cassava’s industrial potential
Premiercon Starch Company Limited, founded by Lubasi Yuyi, produces starch from cassava and sweet potato in Zambia’s North-Western Province. Yuyi, a former provincial lands officer, identified the potential for starch production from cassava for use in mining processes, paper manufacturing, and cardboard packaging. Between 2013 and 2015, the company focused on establishing an outgrower scheme, cultivating improved cassava varieties with higher starch yields and shorter maturity periods. Despite facing funding challenges and delays in setting up the processing plant, Premiercon now has a capacity of 48 tonnes per day. The company serves customers in the construction and packaging industries and is working to expand its production volumes to supply mining houses.
- Strawberry farming in Zambia
Farm23 Strawberry, founded by Bupe Chipili Mulapesi, began growing strawberries in 2009 with just 20 plants and has since expanded to 96,000, supplying both domestic and export markets with fresh Alinta strawberries and strawberry jam. Initially facing scepticism from local consumers, Farm23 invested in marketing, packaging, and branding to compete with imported products, eventually gaining orders from bigger supermarkets and hyper stores. Despite the challenges posed by Covid-19, the company has expanded its reach to include export markets like the Democratic Republic of Congo and is exploring value-added products such as dehydrated strawberries, pure strawberry juice, and dairy drink shakes. Farm23 also supports outgrower schemes, providing seedlings and training to other farmers to grow organic strawberries.
- Growing a meat processing business in Zambia
Arie de Kwaasteniet started Kachema Meat over two decades ago by rearing orphaned calves on his farm in Lusaka, Zambia. The company has since evolved into a nationwide distributor, selling around 10,000 kg of beef, chicken, and pork daily across Zambia’s tourism, retail, and hospitality sectors. Despite the pandemic’s impact on tourism, Kachema Meat adapted by increasing sales to mining and suburban areas. Innovative packaging methods, such as vacuum skin packs, have contributed to the company’s growth. De Kwaasteniet hopes for improvements in Zambia’s tax regime and infrastructure to widen Kachema Meat’s market base and compete with major players like Zambeef. The company currently exports to the Democratic Republic of Congo and aims to expand its reach in southern and east Africa.
- Dried mango for the export market: Entrepreneur’s agro-processing bet pays off
Chankwakwa, a Zambian agro-processing company, was founded by Dorothy Eriksson when she recognised the opportunity to turn excess mangoes into value-added products. The company, which began by drying mangoes, now exports dried mango to Europe and supplies jams, sauces, dried fruits, honey, and soya products to supermarket chains throughout Zambia. With certifications in place, Chankwakwa started shipping sun-dried mangoes to Denmark in 2011. The company works with small-scale farmers in Zambia, fostering strong relationships and providing support during harvests. While dried mango is primarily for export, Chankwakwa’s other products are produced for the local market, with the company considering further export opportunities under the African Growth and Opportunity Act.
- Rethinking the traditional open-air fruit and veg market
Savenda Capital is in the process of establishing a modern, purpose-built fresh produce market in Zambia’s capital, Lusaka, that will offer small-scale farmers an alternative to informal open-air markets that lack cold-storage space and often have exploitative commission structures. The 6,400m2 ZAMBIAFresh Lusaka Market will feature refrigeration and ripening rooms to reduce spoilage and ensure freshness. The venture aims to offer fair prices for buyers and sellers through transparent market rules and a trading software system. It will implement strict food handling and hygiene standards and traceability of all produce to its original producer.
- Capitalising on opportunities in Africa’s fish farming industry
FirstWave Group, a vertically integrated fish farming business with operations in Zambia and Uganda, is taking advantage of the growing demand for fish in Africa. Co-CEO Tembwe Mutungu explains that fish is the most affordable protein source for urban consumers in Africa from cost, health, and environmental perspectives. FirstWave Group operates in the entire value chain, from fish feed production to retailing fresh fish in urban centres throughout East and Southern Africa. Despite a high demand for fish, a significant percentage of fish consumed in Africa is still imported, which FirstWave sees as an opportunity.
- Commercialising goat meat in Zambia
Zambian entrepreneur Paul Nyambe founded Zamgoat to commercialise goat meat, which was not commonly found in supermarkets despite the prevalence of goat farming in the country. The company’s success grew quickly, with demand increasing for pre-packaged goat meat. Zamgoat built a network of smallholder farmers to source the animals and provided breeding stock, training, and knowledge services to improve productivity. With financial assistance from various organisations, including the African Development Bank and the World Bank, Zamgoat set up a goat slaughterhouse and processing facility. The company plans to expand its market reach with new products, including goat burgers and pizza, as well as the quick-service restaurant Zamgoat Xpress.