BUSINESS

ZAMBEEF’S PRECISION FARMING WINS PRAISE FROM BANKERS

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Precision farming techniques put agribusiness at the forefront of Africa’s growth potential

Citibank Managing Director Joyce-Ann Wainaina (right), Vice President Musonda Mutale (left) and Relationship Manager Steven Chitete (second right) are shown soybean by Zambeef Chairman Dr Jacob Mwanza (second left) and Head of PR and Corporate Affairs Felix Lupindula (centre) at Zambeef’s Mpongwe Farm.

Citibank Managing Director Joyce-Ann Wainaina (right), Vice President Musonda Mutale (left) and Relationship Manager Steven Chitete (second right) are shown soybean by Zambeef Chairman Dr Jacob Mwanza (second left) and Head of PR and Corporate Affairs Felix Lupindula (centre) at Zambeef’s Mpongwe Farm.

Zambeef Products’ precision farming techniques offer the real promise of Zambia feeding the region, according to one of the country’s leading bankers.

Speaking during a fact-finding tour of Zambeef’s flagship 46,000-hectare Mpongwe Farm, Citibank Zambia Managing Director Joyce-Ann Wainaina praised the company for the efficiency with which it runs the Copperbelt estate.

“I was very impressed. I had been told that this was going to be a very interesting visit to see the best farm in the region, and without a doubt this is the best farm I have seen. It is a reflection of what we have come to expect from Zambeef. They leave nothing to chance. They have the right people; the right products; the right equipment. They have really invested in the country,” said Mrs Wainaina.

Satellite guidance systems and state-of-the-art farming equipment enable the company to maximise the efficiency of planting, fertiliser application, pest management and harvesting, thus providing some of the best yields in the country, explained Zambeef’s General Manager-Farming Mike Lovett during the visit to Mpongwe this week (January 22, 2014).

Mpongwe Farm has some of the best soils in the world, resulting in world class yields of wheat, soybean, maize and barley, explained Mr Lovett. Wheat yields averaged 9.4 tonnes per hectares last year; dry-land soybean 3.5 tonnes; dry-land maize 9.3 tonnes; and barley 9.59 tonnes

Zambeef bought the farm two-and-a-half years ago. On-time planting, weed control, precision farming equipment and attention to detail were among the secrets of success, said Mr Lovett.

The farm has 42 centre pivots irrigating 3,344 hectares of crops in a wheat-soya rotation, with a further 2,260 hectares of rainfed maize, 5,000 hectares of rainfed soybean and 438 hectares of barley. It has plans to add another 5,000 hectares of cultivation in the next five years.

“This farm is a great reflection of the real potential of Zambia to feed the continent. All the elements exist: the land is perfect; the rain is ideal; the situation is perfect,” said Mrs Wainaina, who was accompanied by Vice President Musonda Mutale and Relationship Manager Steven Chitete.

Agribusiness accounts for around 10 percent of Citibank’s portfolio in Zambia and its growth potential makes it a priority sector for the bank.

Citibank has provided support to Zambeef for over ten years, seeing the company grow both inside and outside the country.

“These are the kind of companies we like to be associated with, where we can take local champions into a global market,” said Mrs Wainaina, who added that the bank also supported Zambeef’s activities in Nigeria.

Zambeef Group Chairman Dr Jacob Mwanza said: “We are happy to be associated with such a global bank as Citibank, which has supported us consistently throughout our development, both in Zambia and in other parts of Africa.”

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