AgDevCo investment of $4million in a Potato Seed growing company and an out-grower scheme in Mbala’s Saise Farm gathers momentum

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UK based Zambian, Valentine Chitalu, the founder of the Phatisa Group, sits on AgDevCo Board as a non Executive director.
Zambia Business Times | 21 July 2016
 
AgDevCo investment of $4million in a Potato Seed growing company and an out-grower scheme in Mbala’s Saise Farm gathers momentum
 
The Zambia Environmental Agency (ZEMA) has initiated a call for comments from the general public for the review of the integrated farming project by Saise Farming Limited, a company under the AgDevCo investment for the proposed set up of a Potato, Soya & maize seed crops and tree crops such as Coffee and Macadamia oil seed crops to be employed in a planned outgrower scheme targeted for the Northern regions of Zambia.
 
Zambia currently imports close to 100% of its seed potato requirements. This project will allow for import substitution as well as export opportunities. The farm is also intended to kick-start investment in an area where there is currently little formal agricultural investment. Power grid outages, potato pests and diseases as well as droughts provide a challenging environment for growing seed potatoes, hence a reliable power supply and irrigation will be paramount for the successful cultivation of this crop.
 
AgDevCo’s investment of $3.9m will be used to establish irrigation (250ha) and power. In addition, farm equipment, sheds, cold stores and machinery will be purchased. This will enable crops to be grown under irrigation ensuring security against droughts. Potatoes will also be grown in the winter, the period of lowest disease pressure, and will be stored in climate-controlled warehouses for the following year’s distribution to farmers. In addition, a disease testing laboratory will be established to ensure quality control of potato seed grown; enabling export of potato seed to Tanzania, Rwanda and DRC stated AgDevCo on their website monitored by ZBT.
 
The project is expected to produce enough small-sized seed for 104 smallholders and it will create 80 FTE jobs in the short term and expected to further develop and become the bedrock for the growth of the Agro industry in the northern parts of Zambia. AgDevCo is a multinational Agro company which is an investor and project developer operating exclusively in the agriculture sector in Africa. The initial investment of $3.9 million is relatively small but an effort to provide a proof of concept that can lead to massive future investment once the business model is established.
 
A UK based Zambian, Valentine Chitalu seats on AgDevCo Board as a non Executive director. Valentine is currently an entrepreneur in Southern Africa, specialising in private equity and local private sector development and attracting local and foreign investment into Africa. Valentine worked previously for CDC/Actis in London and Lusaka, specialising in deal origination throughout Southern Africa and portfolio management in Zambia and Malawi. He was also Chief Executive Officer at the Zambia Privatisation Agency.
 
ZBT head of Agribusiness stated that this and other similar projects provide an investment opportunity for the local Zambians. The value of land around the farm catchment is Mbala will definitely increase if the Saise Farm is successfully established as that land will be ideal for an even medium to large scale outgrower farms by local Zambian farmers.
 
These initiatives need to be supported by the state and relevant stakeholders as towns like Mkushi, Mazabuka and Mpongwe offers a good example of what a proper anchor Agro project with involvement of local Zambians as outgrowers can achieve. The targeted crops I.e Potatoes, Soya, Maize, Coffee and Macadamia are part of the globally traded Agro commodities that also fetch fairly stable prices on the international markets. Such ventures also act as a linkage for local farmers to tap into the massive international market without limiting production to the finite Zambian local market.
Original source: ZBT
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