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Why Zambia? Agriculture in Zambia is booming and although small scale farmers still form the backbone of food supply in the country, there are a growing number of huge successful farming enterprises taking root in the country. ProAgri wanted to know why these people chose Zambia and how they do it. With the help of JP Smit of AFGRI in Mkushi we visited three of these farms. Commitment to the future of farming in Zambia: Agri Options Limited recently opened these silo's and mill. (Photo: Peter Michael)

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tewart and Ashley Parkes lost their farm in Zimbabwe and had to start all over again in Zambia in 2003. They started off doing contracting work for new farmers settling in the Mkushi area with a loan obtained from AFGRI to get the machines to do clearing and tilling. “We had no collateral to buy land, but we would lease pieces of land from other farmers and develop it, and it worked well for all of us,” says Stewart. “We worked our butts off night and day building up farms, but eventually we had to slow down and we are settling down now, here at Cropit.” Stewart is concerned about the future saying that there were massive influxes of investment in 2012 to 2013, but that things have slowed down. The slowing down also coincided with a drought, severely affecting the water supply for irrigation farming in the area. He is also concerned about the maize price and that the government can disturb the balance in the market. He believes that soy beans, which can be exported, may be the answer, but “in a dry year there are no soy beans, only sorry beans”. Despite his concerns, the Parkes are in Zambia to stay: “As long as we are not chased out and left alone, we shall be here. We have invested here, we’ve set up a home. This is our home.”

Stewart and Ashley Parkes: “We are not going anywhere, this is our home.”

rium problems after the maize harvest, they still burn residue after every second year. Cena is being run in a corporate manner, but it stays a farm and Mick is positive about the future of farming in Zambia and policies on issues such as land security. He has no plan to leave any time soon:

“This is what we know; we know how to farm.” Mick Selby

Eternal optimist

Mick Selby is also an ex-Zimbabwean who started out in Zambia in 2003, building up an extensive farming enterprise before being approached by a private equity fund looking for a farming base in Africa. Cena Farms was established, being an acronym for Central African Farming. Today Mick is managing 1 380 hectares of irrigated land and about 900 hectares of dry land. He is also concerned about the changing weather patterns, especially over the last three years, and its influence on the availability of water. “But as a farmer you have to be the eternal optimist and make a plan,” he says, talking about their plans to build a huge dam for which they have specifically acquired a piece of land. 45% of Sub Saharan Africa’s water runs from Zambia, so the country has huge water resources available to be developed. Traditionally there has been no need for extensive water storage, but the drought as well as the massive development in agriculture have placed new demands on water supply. On Cena Farms conservation farming is practised as far as possible by re-incorporating stover in the soil to maintain moisture, but due to fusa-

Peter Michael

24 years and growing

Peter Michael was one of the first South African farmers to move to Zambia 24 years ago. He has witnessed the agricultural development in the country. “For the first five years we literally farmed in the bush, living in a caravan. Everything we needed we had drive up from South Africa with a tractor and wagon.” Today he has a well developed precision farming enterprise with 2 000 hectares under irrigation, planting maize, soy, wheat and tobacco. He also has cattle and a game farm with a breeding programme for West Zambian sable; although he says game farming in Zambia is still in its infancy compared to South Africa. Peter is also involved in a co-operative venture with a number of other farmers, called Agri Options Limited, buying in and processing grain in a huge plant – a massive investment in the future.

ProAgri Zambia 01

October 2015

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ProAgri Zambia 01  

ProAgri Zambia 01

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