A delegation of 20 Chinese businessmen and agriculturalists from Han Chin City in China yesterday visited the Zambia National Farmers’ Union (ZNFU) to explore possibilities of partnership with the Union and investment in Zambia’s agriculture sector.
And the ZNFU has called on the Chinese to consider utilising the abundant opportunities available in Zambia’s agriculture sector, which country teems with abundant arable land, where only 6.02 million hectares or 14% of 43 million hectares of land classified as high potential for agriculture is being utilised, water resources and a good investment climate.
ZNFU president Jervis Zimba urged the delegation to explore possibilities of investment in the entire agriculture value chain, value addition and processing. He also told the Chinese delegation that a window for enhancing mechanisation and technological advancement begs to be tapped. He said Zambian farmers want to move with the rest of the world in agricultural technological advancement that would trigger increased production and improved productivity.
He said there lies a great opportunity to invest in irrigation, with irrigation potential estimated to be about 2.75 million hectares; based on water availability and soil irrigability, which 523,000 hectares can be economically developed.
He said only 340,000 hectares of land is irrigated in Zambia, which is about 65 percent of the economical irrigation potential leaving a total of 183,000 hectares yet to be developed.
The ZNFU said massive investment opportunities exist in various agriculture sub-sectors that include;
Soyabeans and edible oils production, livestock, stock feed and livestock processing (which includes beef, poultry and pigs), tobacco and value addition, sugarcane, sugar and ethanol production, dairy, and maize with potential to invest in Value Addition Processing Equipment and Machinery and storage facilities.
Mr. Zimba said there is also a huge export market in the region, with the Congo DR offering the largest market for not only unprocessed, but also fully processed agriculture products.
The Chinese delegation said its main investment interest is in plantation agriculture, fisheries, agriculture value addition, processing and agriculture machinery, but mainly livestock and the entire agriculture value chain.
Head of delegation Cheng Chungsheng said they bring with them vast agriculture technology in raising cattle, chickens and other agricultural products and massive marketing experience and ready capital.
Mr. Chungsheng said they have been to South Africa, Zimbabwe and now Zambia and are happy with what they have seen here.
Mr. Chungsheng said his delegation wants to set up industries in Zambia, which, apart from growing agricultural products, would process everything from within the country and export finished products. He said they want to create employment and transfer agriculture technical knowhow among the local Zambians.
Mr. Chungsheng intimated to ZNFU that another delegation would visit the Union before the end of the year.