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ZNS milling plant excites Mpika farmers

DESPITE lying on a busy international route – the Great North Road – that leads to the Indian Ocean port city of Der es Salaam in Tanzania, Mpika town in Muchinga Province does not reflect that image. It is only now undergoing some form of industrialisation. And recently, a new feature was added to its new industrial landscape. An industrial milling plant – one of the country’s largest – was commissioned by Minister of Defence Ambrose Lufuma. The plant has a daily processing capacity of 240 tonnes, and is the second of six planned under a presidential initiative, with financial and technical assistance from the Chinese government. The milling plants are operated by the Zambia National Service (ZNS). A similar plant to the one in Mpika, with similar capacity, was commissioned in Monze on December 17 last year. Added to that a demonstration plant at the China-aided Agricultural Technology Demonstration Centre in Lusaka, which has a daily processing capacity of 40 tonnes. The Mpika Industrial Milling Plant is expected to transform agriculture business by providing a ready market for local farmers. And the farmers are excited at the business prospects. Chola Kakapu, 53, a father of seven who has been farming since 1990, is elated by the development. “The Mpika farming community will benefit from the market for their produce, employment and infrastructure,” Mr Kakapu says. He says on average, Mpika produces over 700,000x50kg bags of maize which will now be consumed by the milling plant.
Mr Kakapu’s 21-hectare farm lies about 2.5km from the new plant. Lewis Mpundu, another farmer in the vast district, is equally upbeat. “[There will be] no more shortage of mealie-meal and no more high prices as the mealie-meal will be produced locally. The plant will alleviate poverty as a good number of people will be employed,” Mr Mpundu says. He is also happy that the plant has created a ready market for the maize, as previously farmers only depended on markets in Lusaka and the Copperbelt. But the huge transportation costs and long waiting period for payment from the Food Reserve Agency (FRA) affected them negatively. “It is expensive to transport maize at a charge of K18,000 per 30 tonnes load, which has low price compared to other products like soya beans; and at FRA, it takes time to CLICK TO READ MORE