ZAMBEEF SET TO EXPLORE NEW FRONTIERS WITH GROWING MARKETS
Food retailer urges local farmers to expand their outlook with new markets opening up through cross-border trade
LUSAKA, ZAMBIA – Zambeef Products is urging farmers across the country to expand their outlook to focus on how they can improve productivity and tap into the wider regional cross-border markets. The burgeoning interest in farming activities as a result of government’s desire to diversify the nation towards a more agriculture-based economy has brought about renewed vigour for farming businesses across the country. After the mining sector, agriculture has been identified as one of the pillars for economic diversification, with massive opportunities for wealth generation. There are numerous opportunities in the food production and processing industry with the United Nations projecting a three-fold increase in demand for food from US$8 billion in 2017 to US$25 billion in 2032 owing to the region’s growing population.
“We are fast moving towards an economy in which demand for food, at the current rate, will surpass supply. The development of our local farmers’ capacity over the next few years will determine the level at which Zambia gets to be a part of producing for and supplying that demand while keeping in mind its own food security,” said Zambeef Head of Corporate Affairs and General Manager Retailing Felix Lupindula. He noted that access to regional markets presented opportunities for increased employment, foreign direct investment and tax earnings for the country. While the majority of activity in the sector still is undertaken at a non-commercial level in rural and peri-urban populations, agriculture remains the mainstay for most communities in these areas. However, the productivity among the farmers is often impeded by challenges including lack of access to markets and technical know-how, transport for goods, post-harvest storage and agro-processing facilities for value addition.
Commercial entities such as Zambeef play a pivotal role in alleviating some of these challenges by creating formal forward and backward market linkages that connect the nation’s farmers to markets across the country and beyond; unique farm-to-fork approach by the organisation provides an opportunity for farmers to tap into and benefit from its retailing and distribution network through supplying raw materials into its value chain.
“Knowing there is a sustainable market for produce will go a long way in boosting farmer confidence and encourage greater productivity. The same can be said from the point of view of the markets; they need to be able to trust the consistency, quality, availability and affordability of the supply. And I believe these are some of the reasons why Zambeef is doing so well on the market,” noted Mr Lupindula. “Zambeef is set on realising its vision to become a major food producer in the region and that entails growing our own internal capacity as well as that of the country as whole. Zambia needs to see more of its population, especially the young, engaging agriculture in an increasingly deliberate and purposeful manner so as to generate wealth for its people and bring about social and economic transformation,” added Mr Lupindula. Zambeef operates outlets in the border towns of Kasumbalesa, Chirundu, Chipata and most recently Nakonde, which share borders with the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Zimbabwe and Malawi respectively offering value-added products such as beef, dairy, poultry and pork, as well as stockfeed and day-old chicks.
The company is focused on growing its retail value chain, which has a strong pull factor on the vertical integration model. Zambeef operates 205 outlets including the Shoprite in-store butcheries – across the country and in the Western African countries of Nigeria and Ghana. Zambia has long enjoyed strong commerce and trade ties with its neighbours in agricultural commodities such as potatoes, beans and wheat. Zambia is also a member of some of the key regional agreements such the African Union (AU), the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) and Southern African Development Community (SADC) that seek to promote regional trade and integration in pursuing economic self-sustenance and the reduction of poverty among others. The nation’s leading food producer and retailing company sees all these as opportunities and stepping stones that should and can drive Zambia to increased trade activity in the region.