CHAMBO NG’UNI, Kabwe
FARMERS in Central Province have for a long time been demanding access to affordable fertiliser and other farm inputs to boost crop production in one of Zambia’s breadbaskets.
Their prayers have been answered by Forestcol Fertiliser Zambia Limited, a company established in 2016 which has opened a fertiliser processing plant in Zambia with a 150 metric tonne production capacity.
“As a farmer, it’s quite exciting that we are blessed with this fertiliser company which we will always treasure,” Komani Ng’ambi, the chairperson of Kabwe District Farmers Association, said.
Mr Ng’ambi said the Zambia National Farmers Union supports any investment that could help its members become more productive.
He pointed out that fertiliser is an important ingredient in agricultural production as it enables farmers to produce healthy crops and increase their yields.
The availability of quality, cheaper farm inputs reduces the cost of production and has a multiplier effect on crop production.
Kabwe farmers are happy with the opening of the fertiliser plant, and Mr Ng’ambi echoed their sentiments.
“This will see us move to higher heights as farmers,” he said.
Forestcol Fertiliser Zambia Limited is a subsidiary of SANHE, a conglomerate dealing in manganese mining in China, Democratic Republic of Congo, Mozambique, Zambia and Zimbabwe. The firm has invested K200 million in the fertiliser processing plant, creating 200 jobs for Zambians and employing five Chinese nationals. At full capacity, the company will create another 200 jobs.
“Our aims and goals are to produce high quality fertiliser that will enable farmers to get the value for their money,” Forestcol Fertiliser Zambia Limited director Kelvin Wangu said.
He said his company wants to contribute to the growth of the agriculture sector in Zambia through the production of quality fertilisers for maize and other crops.
Mr Wangu is confident Forestcol Fertiliser Zambia Limited’s investment will help to bridge the gap between the demand and supply of the commodity.
The uncertainty surrounding the demand for fertiliser on the market can be eliminated if the market is flooded with the commodity.
It is for this reason that Forestcol Fertiliser Zambia Limited plans to build warehouses in all the 10 provinces.
“We want to ensure that no farmer is left behind in the growth of the agriculture sector,” Mr Wangu says.
President Edgar Lungu describes Forestcol Fertiliser Zambia Limited’s investment in Kabwe as a boost in the agriculture sector.
The company’s investment is in line with the Vision 2030 and the Seventh National Development Plan which President Lungu says are blueprints for transforming Zambia into the best investment destination.
“Our interest as Government is to attract as many investors as possible so that we give a re-birth to Kabwe, a town which some years back was very vibrant with regard to economic activities,” President Lungu said.
President Lungu was represented by Vice-President Inonge Wina during the commissioning of the fertiliser plant in Kabwe recently.
With Government prioritising the agriculture sector as one of the economic engines, President Lungu stressed the need for farmers to access affordable farm inputs.
This is necessary if farmers are to fully and effectively engage in agriculture to contribute to economic growth and poverty alleviation.
President Lungu is hopeful that Forestcol Fertiliser Zambia Limited will thrive and create more jobs.
Government also wants all companies doing business in the country to adhere to the country’s labour laws.
“As Government, we hereby advise that you continue to operate within the confines of the laws,” President Lungu urged Forestcol Fertilisers Zambia Limited management.
The company says it will produce 3,000 bags of fertiliser per day.
“This plant is a milestone in the economic discourse of Zambia,” former Vice-President Lupando Mwape said.
Mr Mwape, a consultant for Small Scale Farmers Network of Zambia, said the establishment of the fertiliser plant will contribute to diversification in the agriculture sector.
Under its corporate social responsibility, Forestcol Fertilisers Zambia Limited has pledged to build a primary school in Makandanyama and to rehabilitate some old schools in Kabwe.
The company has also promised to construct health care facilities and rehabilitate old ones to help Zambia provide quality health care services.
“This is the kind of investment that we wish to encourage, investments which also look at the plight of the communities within the vicinity of its location,” President Lungu said.