Corn, Soya Agro ex­ports con­tinue to soar

Zambian Business Times - - BUSINESS REVIEW -

ZAMBIAs AGRO ex­ports have con­tin­ued to reg­is­ter sig­nif­i­cant growth trends month on month with corn – maize- now of­fi­cially the big­gest ex­port cash crop. Corn meal which is the coun­try’s tra­di­tional and sta­ple food is now be­ing grown to an ex­tent were the na­tional con­sump­tion is out­stripped with avail­able har­vest for the ex­port mar­kets.

For the month of Novem­ber 2017, corn and corn seed ex­ports were recorded to the tune of K175mil­lion (about USD17.5mil­lion), an in­crease of about K11mil­lion (about USD1mil­lion) from the pre­vi­ous month of Oc­to­ber 2017 which recorded ex­port earn­ings of K164mil­lion (about USD16.4mil­lion). Corn pro­duc­tion is Zam­bia is well di­ver­si­fied and grown across the coun­try in small, medium and large com­mer­cial farm­ing seg­ments.

The Zam­bia Na­tional Farm­ers Union - ZNFU and the Min­istry of Agri­cul­ture an­nounced a corn bumper har­vest for the 2016/2017 sea­son of 3.6mil­lion m/tons up from the 2016 har­vest of about 2.8mil­lion met­ric tons. Zam­bia’s lo­cal con­sump­tion for both hu­man and in­dus­trial use is es­ti­mated at about 2mil­lion met­ric tons leav­ing the ex­cess of about 1.6mil­lion met­ric tons avail­able for ex­port.

Soya beans and soya oil cake ex­ports took a strong sec­ond po­si­tion among agro ex­ports record­ing ex­port val­ues for Novem­ber 2017 of K155mil­lion (about USD15.5mil­lion), up from Oc­to­ber ex­port value of K59mil­lion (about USD5.9mil­lion). This is a jump of 2.6 times month on month. This crop also recorded an in­crease of 351,000 m/tons for the 2016/2017 har­vest sea­son. Soya has emerged as a ver­sa­tile and im­por­tant crop for pro­duc­tion of cook­ing oil and a sup­ple­ment to an­i­mal feeds.

Other top five agro ex­ports in the lat­est num­bers availed to ZBT for Novem­ber 2017 were cane and beet sugar with ex­port earn­ings of about K57mil­lion (USD5.7mil­lion). Sugar is com­mer­cially grown in Zam­bia, with the largest pro­ducer be­ing Maz­abuka - South­ern Prov­ince - based Illovo’s Zam­bia Sugar com­pany. Sugar ex­ports are pro­jected to fur­ther in­crease as more brands and green­field agro projects reach ma­tu­rity. Al­ready, we have Sable Group’s Con­sol­i­dated Farm­ing Lim­ited’s (span­ning across Lusaka and Cen­tral prov­inces), Ka­fue Sugar and Gourock Group’s Kalung­wishi es­tates (North­ern Prov­ince) based Kasama Sugar be­ing read­ily avail­able in most na­tional re­tail out­lets and more Green­field sugar projects like Spin Ven­tures Group’s Mansa Sugar, in Zam­bia’s Lua­pula prov­ince.

To­bacco has made the top five agro ex­port list by value for Novem­ber record­ing ex­port earn­ings of K24.7mil­lion (about USD2.5mil­lion). Min­is­ter of Agri­cul­ture Dora Siliya an­nounced in May 2017 that Bur­ley To­bacco pro­duc­tion has re­bounded with about 30% in­crease is pro­duce ex­pected in 2017. To­bacco pro­duc­tion had jumped from about 6,500 m/tons to about 8, 400 m/tons with Vir­ginia to­bacco pro­duc­tion largely re­main­ing flat at about 12,000 m/tons. It is these in­creases in pro­duc­tion that ac­count for im­proved ex­port earn­ings.

The To­bacco sec­tor in Zam­bia has re­ceived a fur­ther boost af­ter the Bri­tish Amer­i­can To­bacco -BAT un­der­took the con­struc­tion of a $USD15mil­lion to­bacco pro­cess­ing plant in Lusaka South Eco­nomic Multi Fam­ily Zone. An­other global to­bacco com­pany, Roland Im­pe­rial To­bacco -RIT an­nounced plans to con­struct a pro­cess­ing plant val­ued at $USD150mil­lion in Chipata, with con­struc­tion ex­pected to take off this year 2018. This buy­ing in­dus­trial and pro­cess­ing ca­pac­ity be­ing cre­ated is ex­pected to lead to bet­ter value chain cre­ation, mar­ket com­pe­ti­tion and bet­ter farmer’s prices and more ex­port dol­lars for Zam­bia.

Fresh cut roses have also re­bounded and was among the top five ex­port com­modi­ties by value in Novem­ber 2017. Fresh roses ex­ports recorded ex­port earn­ings for Zam­bia to the tune of K15.6mil­lion (about USD1.6mil­lion). Rose flow­ers farm­ing had seen a de­cline af­ter the demise of the air­line in­dus­try that was used for timely de­liv­ery in the Euro­pean mar­kets. The rose flower farm­ing out­put is now vis­i­ble fol­low­ing the boost in the 2015 Zam­bian gov­ern­ment bud­get that cut 15% and 5% cus­toms duty on the green­houses and rose seedlings im­ports. With Zam­bia Air­ways com­ing back it’s as if Zam­bia would be go­ing back to the Agri­flora days when fresh cut roses were flown out of Lusaka to the Euro­pean Union mar­kets.

Zam­bia’s ex­port earn­ings have largely been driven by raw and semi-process Cop­per ex­port which has re­mained the na­tion’s main ex­port earner ac­count­ing for over 70% of the coun­try’s to­tal ex­port earn­ings. Ef­forts to di­ver­sify the econ­omy by the gov­ern­ment and con­cerned cit­i­zens have mostly been ham­pered by lop­sided poli­cies, changes and com­plete aban­don­ment in some pro­gres­sive poli­cies af­ter suc­ces­sive po­lit­i­cal power changes. Zam­bia also needs to di­ver­sify and fur­ther de­velop the cop­per in­dus­try value chain by sup­port­ing lo­cal­iza­tion of up­stream in­dus­tries, sup­port­ing ex­ist­ing cop­per ca­ble man­u­fac­tures such as ZAMEFA, ZALCO and Neelkampth Ca­bles which are op­er­at­ing in Zam­bia and pro­vid­ing ad­di­tional eco­nomic ac­tiv­ity from the cop­per that would have been ex­ported in raw form.

There is also need for at­trac­tion of high tech cop­per wire pro­duc­tion com­pa­nies that can fur­ther en­sure not only tech­nol­ogy and skills trans­fer but also jobs re­lo­ca­tion back into Zam­bia were the cop­per is mined. This is per­haps the big­gest job which all suc­ces­sive mines min­is­ter’s and gov­ern­ments in Zam­bia have failed to lever­age and de­liver more eco­nomic ben­e­fits for the coun­try.

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