ZAMPALM COMMISSIONS US$1M PROCESSING PLANT
Crude palm oil to be produced in Zambia
LUSAKA, ZAMBIA – Zambia’s pioneering palm oil business, Zampalm – a subsidiary of Zambeef Products – has commissioned a US$1 million state-of-the art crushing and processing plant in Mpika.
The factory will begin processing crude palm oil this September 2015, with first harvesting planned for August through to January next year, and will drastically reduce the country’s dependence on crude palm oil and other edible oil imports.
The plant has a capacity to crush two to three tonnes of fresh palm fruit per hour, producing a yield of 20-30 percent of crude palm oil.
The plant comprises four “cookers” a boiler, tumbler and digester that separate the oil from the fruit. The used fruit bunches are then recycled into the boiler as fuel or used as organic fertiliser. The crude oil will then be sent for refining into cooking oil or biofuel.
Following completion of the new crushing mill a second two-tonne mill is expected to be installed in 2017 and a further 10-tonne plant the following year, taking crude palm oil production up to 17,000 tonnes a year.
The operation currently employs over 500 workers with the workforce expected to grow as the harvesting season draws closer and operations grow.
The total investment cost in the Zampalm project is estimated at US$41.5 million, of which Zambeef has spent US$20 million so far. At current prices the average production of crude oil of 3 to 3.5 tonnes per hectare could generate more than US$170 million in revenue over the next decade.
Zambia currently imports crude palm oil worth over $70 million every year, which is a costly exercise for the country which consumes around 120,000 tonnes of cooking oil but only produces 30-50 percent of the total supply.
Zampalm will also, at a later stage, look at branching out into the SADC market targeting countries such as the DRC and Angola which are also massive importers of the crude palm oil.
The Zampalm project was launched in 2009 and currently has some 370,900 palms planted over an area of 2,612 hectares in the main plantation, with another 39,000 seedlings in the main and pre-nursery. Zampalm owns 20,238 hectares of titled land, and the intention is to plant a total of 4,812 hectares in 2017 and similar areas in subsequent years as the business grows.
Palm oil is the world’s most used vegetable oil and has many different uses in addition to cooking oil. Palm oil and its derivatives are found in foods such as margarines and ice cream, used as a thickener, preservative and antioxidant; as well as in personal care products such as shampoo, and cosmetics; industrial products such as lubricants paints and inks; and as a renewable fuel.
More than half of Zambia’s edible oil consumption is imported from the Far East, East Africa and South Africa.
Once fully operational the plantation will contribute to substituting 70,000 tonnes of cooking oil imported into Zambia, saving the country around US$70 million (K511 million) in foreign exchange outflows every year.