TWENTY-four of South Africa’s leading farmers will arrive in Zambia on Tuesday to open discussions with Government on how they can move their investment into the country’s agricultural sector.
The farmers, who literally control South Africa’s agricultural economy, will meet Agriculture Minister, Mr. Given Lubinda and other senior Government officials on Wednesday afternoon, while the schedule for a meeting with President Edgar Lungu is yet to be finalised.
The farmers, who each have an annual turnover in excess of USD $6.5 million per year and have been organised under the auspices of Agri All Africa (AaA), are focusing to invest in areas of fresh produce which include sugar cane, wheat, maize, soya beans; livestock products ranging from cattle to sheep to goats and chickens.
The AaA client-farmers have identified, among other countries; Zambia, Nigeria, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Angola, Mozambique, Malawi, Ivory Coast, Ethiopia, Tanzania, Namibia and Sudan as their immediate investment destinations.
Zambia has been pegged as number one priority because of its proximity to South Africa which made it easier for the farmers to drive their equipment into the country. Zambia has also been favoured because of her “friendliness in attracting foreign direct investment through the current policies”.
The decision to travel to Zambia was made last month at a meeting organised by AaA held in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa.
The meeting was convened to discuss acceleration of strengthening of management platforms to ensure the successful implementation of agriculture investments in prioritised destinations in Africa. The meeting also discussed current opportunities with the aim of aligning them to making a difference in agricultural development.
The participants who included client-farmers, AaA functionaries and board members, diplomatic representation, project managers and representatives from the agribusiness value chain looked at agricultural investment opportunities and how risk could be minimised in order to create assurance for the Africa option.
It was resolved that cooperation among the key elements and actors was essential to reach properly managed and implementable projects that would change the lives of people on the ground as well as allow commercial viability for all stakeholders.
The farmers are keen to move their investment into Zambia as soon as suitable land was secured.
AaA, which was born out of South Africa’s commercial agricultural sector aims to support the development of commercial agriculture in Africa, which it has identified as a key driver of the continent’s economic development.