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Zampalm is expected to reduce Zambia’s edible oils import bill by USD25 - million, thereby saving the country the much needed foreign exchange. This is according to the Industrial Development Corporation – IDC Public Relations Manager Namakau Mukelabai.
Speaking exclusively to the Zambian Business Times – ZBT, Mukelabai stated that “The Zampalm Plantation plans to expand to 20,000 hectares with the potential production of 5 metric tons per hectare of Crude Palm Oil.
She stated that the growth of palm oil in the country is facilitating import substitution, noting that until now, Zambia imports most of its edible oils at significant cost to the country.
Being a long-term investment, the full potential is expected to be reached in a period of about 10 years. With full potential, revenues from palm oil expected to be in excess of USD25 million per annum,” she said.
However, Mrs. Mukelabai says the current palm oil production is mainly for local market while global Industries in Ndola buy all the palm oil from Zampalm.
The palm oil production which started in 2016 has over the last two years recorded a massive advancement with the production capacity of approximately 300 tons of fruits from the nucleus plantation equivalent to about 60 tons of palm oil produced.
The IDC Public Relations Manager Namakau Mukelabai told the Zambia Business times that a ton of palm oil is currently valued at about USD800 per ton.
“The palm oil project in Zambia started in 2008 with the establishment of an oil palm nursery. The earliest planted palm trees were in 2011 while the production of palm oil started in 2016 as palm trees take at least 4 years to start bearing fruit, currently there is a 2 tons per hour oil mill at Zampalm Estate” she said.
Mukelabai further explained that the key inputs and raw material for the production of oil are oil palm seedlings, fertilizers and agriculture machinery/equipment. These are items that are the major inputs to have the final products.
She adds that Zampalm has so far employed 700 employees and that the out grower scheme is targeting to reach at least 5,000 households at peak production levels. The out growers program is anticipated to generate employment for mainly the youth and women in Muchinga Province primarily.
The industrial base that is associated with growing palm trees in Muchinga province will also result in rural feeder roads and other economic infrastructure that is expected to be brought about by the out grower’s component. This will be beneficial to the local out grower farmers and the entire community catchment in the two provinces including Luapula.