President Edgar Lungu says government will support Zampalm company realise its palm out-grower scheme initiative in Chief Kopa’s area in Mpika district.
President Lungu says as chairperson of the Industrial Development Corporation, he will ensure that plans by Zampalm to introduce an out-grower scheme come to fruition.
The President says he will borrow best practices in out-grower schemes from Nakambala Sugar in Mazabuka as well as in Uganda so that they can be replicated by Zampalm.
He says Zampalm will only be called a true success if the local people in its area of operation benefit from the company.
President Lungu has also expressed disappointment that the work environment at Palm oil Producing Company has been politicised.
He has pointed out that he has received reports that the Patriotic Front members were being side-lined at the company, a development he says was unfortunate.
The President has called on management at Zampalm to desist from discrimination based on political affiliation but embrace everyone regardless of their political party preferences.
He has warned that if the trend is allowed to continue, it has the potential to bring friction between government and Zampalm.
The President has further asked the company to strive to pay its workers decent wages.
He said although he is aware that the agricultural industry is not a well-paying sector and that Zampalm’s huge investment in the Palm plantation has not yet started paying dividends, it is also important that workers are well remunerated.
President Lungu has further commended Chief Kopa for giving land to the investor to develop the plantation for the benefit of the local people.
And ZAMBEEF has joined chief executive officer, Francis Grogan, who said the establishment of the plantation in 2009 was in response to government’s call for national food security, poverty alleviation, need for import substitution, employment creation and job creation.
Mr Grogan said the production of palm oil at the plantation will assist with food production.
He said Zampalm is moving towards import substitution of edible oil which he described as a good development for Zambia’s economy.
Mr Grogan revealed that the plantation has so far created 180 permanent jobs for the local people.
He disclosed that the project currently has 370, 900 palms on an area of 2, 612 hectares.
Mr Grogan said a two-tonnes-per hour crushing mill has already been installed while plans for two more mills are underway that will bring oil production to 17,000 tonnes per year in the near future.
He said ZAMBEEF has so far invested US $ 21 million from the expected total cost of US $40 million.
Mr Grogan said the company’s medium to long term vision is to incorporate 5000 out-grower around the estate and a further 8000 within the district.