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Zambian growers in the spotlight

The trip to Zambia to present Macfrut was the perfect occasion for the Italian delegation led by Renzo Piraccini to visit a few companies and retailers. The two companies presented perfectly reflect how things work in Zambia: the first is a large business reconverting non-profitable summer crops while the other wants to grow despite the limited resources.

Tour of Zambezi Ranching & Cropping Limited

"Zambezi Ranching & Cropping Limited owns 30,000 hectares, 6,000 of which are cultivated and 2,000 of which are also irrigated. It grows 150 ha of plants resold on the domestic market and 53 hectares of a patented variety of blueberries. Blueberry crops are part of a joint venture with a South African partner that packages, sells and supplies plantlets. Most of the produce is exported to England by sea from Cape Town or from Walvis Bay in Namibia," explains Piraccini. 

Fertigation system

The company aims at reaching 500 hectares. Produce is available between June and October. The project has already started and investments are of the maximum technological level as regards both field and irrigation technologies. Workers cost around $3 a day, while they cost around $8-10 in South Africa, meaning many companies are relocating to Zambia. There are 300 fixed and 2,000 seasonal workers.

The delegation then visited the Tuzini company. "It's run by Maria Zaloumis and covers 40 hectares - 5 are used for open-field table tomatoes, while the rest is used for onions. It employs 62 operators making around $2 a day harvesting tomatoes in buckets. The produce is then placed in 30 kg crates. There is no grading or chilling."

Tour of the Tuzini company

Most of the tomatoes and onions are sold to ShopRite through the Lusaka platform. It produces 300 ton of tomatoes per hectare on average with an average price of around $5 a crate (16 cent per kg). Sometimes the price drops to $2 per crate. Maria Zaloumis will attend the next edition of Macfrut as she's interested in new tomato varieties, greenhouse technologies and grading lines.

Modern distribution controls around 5% of the market, while the rest of the fresh produce is sold through traditional channels, i.e. markets.

The most popular chain is ShopRite, which owns 32 supermarkets in Zambia and will open eight new stores before the end of the year. Most of the fruit comes from South Africa while vegetables come from Zambia. The only product imported from Italy is kiwi, while summer and citrus fruit come from Spain. 

"The Fresh Market platform distributes Zambian produce in the other 10 African countries where there are ShopRite stores."
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