Agritech Expo participants upbeat about Zambia’s farming future

“I see this region playing a big part in feeding the world in the future”

Partners and participants in the upcoming Agritech Expo, taking place from 4-5 April at GART in Chisamba, are upbeat about the future of Zambia’s agricultural sector and see the country as a good investment opportunity.

Zambia’s booming farming sector will be in focus at what will be the country’s first and only outdoor agriculture exhibition and which boasts strong local support and international interest. The Zambian National Farmers Union (ZNFU) is a key partner in the event which is expected to draw more than 2000 of the industry’s leading farmers, suppliers, manufacturers, retails, agents and service providers.

“An incredible excitement about the event is building up in Zambia”, says event director Liam Beckett, “the interest is enormous, from the industry to the media. Agritech Expo will put this country’s agri sector on the map!”

Zambia provides excellent opportunities
Rob Munro, Senior Technical Advisor at Musika, a Zambian non-profit that works to stimulate private sector investment in the smallholder market and a key partner in the event, says: “one of Musika’s explicit aims is improving access by smallholders to markets that support exposure to and adoption of modern agricultural technology – from land preparation machinery to livestock genetics and from electronic payment systems to boom sprayers. Agritech presents an opportunity to focus all of these efforts around one major event.”

He describes Zambia as a “strong international agricultural investment destination, based on the very attractive combination of land availability, sanctity of title, political stability and a good agricultural climate. While the domestic food market is not large, it is growing at a rapid rate along with the growing purchasing power of the urban centres and Zambia sits in a region of general food deficit which provides excellent opportunities for export-based growth.”

Region to play a big part in feeding the world
Donald Mavindidze, Country Manager of Monsanto, a hybrid seed maize and crop protection products supplier to Zambia’s farming community, agrees:  “I see this region playing a big part in feeding the world in the future. We need to put a few things in place and I believe we are well on our way.”

He continues:  “the problem is that Zambia is landlocked and the cheapest way to export would be rail, but it is not in a good state. If we can get our railroad to work efficiently and get our industry to be driven by market forces, we will be able to pride ourselves to be one of the biggest producers of maize. We have the resources and climate.”  Monsanto is a silver sponsor at the upcoming Agritech Expo.

Another local agri-industry supporter of the event, HarvestPlus, is a supplier of micronutrient biofortified staple crops and also a silver sponsor.  Nicholas Mwansa, Regional Maize Seed System Specialist for Africa at HarvestPlus says the main challenge for the agricultural sector in Zambia is to “meet the needs of the smallholder farmer who constitute the majority population and in whose echelons poverty resides. These needs include timely delivery of affordable inputs such as seed, fertilizers, chemicals etc. and to provide functional markets for the produced outputs.”

Says Mr Mwansa:  “The most efficient approach is a collaborative one where private, public and civil society work together to end poverty and malnutrition. Agritech Expo has the potential to bring these sectors together at one event and space to interact and share!”