:: Agriculture ::



                                                                         By Paul Runge

Introductory Comments

Readers will note the following from this overview:
• National agriculture programmes such as the wide-embracing Zambezi Integrated Agricultural Community Development Programme are receiving strong support.
• South African expertise is still strongly required in Africa. The coordinating role of Stellenbosch University in the NEPAD Water Centres of Excellence Initiative is an example of this.
• Agricultural projects are an important component of the corporate social investment projects of the mining houses operating in Africa.
• The new trend for the establishment of science and technology parks for example in Mozambique, is creating positive impetus for agricultural research. 

National Programmes

The ambitious and expensive Zambezi Integrated Agricultural Community Development Programme in Botswana is at the conceptual phase. It is an integrated programme which in its first phase, will develop 20 000 hectares on a site situated 50 kilometres south of Kazangula. Water will be drawn from the Zambezi River. The produce will be oil seeds, vegetables, grain and poultry. The programme will also produce 4 000 tons of freshwater fish per annum. The second phase concerns the development of another 20 000 hectares at Pendamatenga south-west of the phase I site. An Israeli company is providing technical assistance. The third phase involves the transport of water down to Letsibogo to join the national water carrier. Due diligence will reportedly be completed in the first quarter of 2010. The first phase should start in 2011 with the first produce available in 2014. The estimated cost is 5 billion Pula or about USD 780 million.

The Sugar Board of Tanzania has allocated 15 000 hectares for the development of sugar cane farming in the Ruipa Basin in the Kilombera District in Morogoro. Tanzania is refurbishing its sugar cane plants and a 4% increase in production is expected this season. The four main sugar plants have a combined capacity of 400 000 tons but are realising only 290 000 tons. The Sugar Board project involves training of sugar stakeholders and importation of cane varieties. The Common Fund for Commodities has released a grant of USD 2,3 million. 

Citadel Capital of Egypt will be implementing Sudan’s first commercial rice production project over 25 000 hectares situated south of Khartoum. The Egyptian company has a 30-year land lease. Most of the production will be for domestic consumption but the excess will be exported to other African markets as well as the Middle East. 

Funding from Aid Agencies & Donor Nations

Stellenbosch University of South Africa is acting as Coordinator of the NEPAD Water Centres of Excellence Initiative. The objective is to promote cooperation and knowledge transfer between organisations involved in water research in southern Africa to improve resource management, policy formulation, provide of high-quality water to rural and urban areas, improve water purification technology and limit flood damage. Countries involved thus far are South Africa, Botswana, Malawi, Zambia, Mozambique and Namibia. Funding is from the European Commission through EuropeAid and the South African Department of Science and Technology. The Initiative is recognised by the African Ministers Council on Water.

The donor community have pledged the amount of USD 35 million towards the national irrigation programme of Rwanda. The main funders are the USA and Canada.

Value-Add/Industrial Projects

An abattoir is required for installation at a slaughter house in Port Sudan, Sudan. Water supply and generators will be required. The objective is to slaughter 30 head of cattle per hour and 120 sheep per hour. The capital requirement is USD 20-30 million. A government guarantee has been secured. Various financial models have been proposed including a joint venture and a management proposal for the financier

The Madhvani Group is planning to invest USD 100 million in a new sugar production plant situated in the northern district of Amura, Uganda. The plant will produce 60 000 tons of sugar per annum. The government has allocated 10 000 acres on a lease basis.

Resource-Linked Agricultural Programmes

Katanga Province in southern DR Congo has embarked upon a major maize cultivation programme. The province depends strongly on imports from Zambia. Major mining companies such as First Quantum of Canada are funding maize production projects as part of their corporate social investment. First Quantum has 500 hectares under cultivation. Bazano Mining is cultivating 700 hectares.

The Zambian authorities are implementing a system of multi-facility economic zones (MFEZ) notably in mining areas of the country. Plans are underway to guarantee legal status to the Lumwana Mining Company for the operation of the MFEZ in Solwezi. The Zambia Development Agency (ZDA) has previously approved the MFEZ for the Lumwana copper mine. The methodology is to identify a cornerstone investor in a specific designated area to act as a catalyst for the establishment of a special investment zone to promote supply of agricultural and other goods to the anchor investor.


The company, Sukari Industries Ltd will be constructing a new sugar production plant at Riat in the Ndhiwa District, Kenya. The cost will be approximately 1,8 billion Kenya Shillings (75 Kenya Shillings = USD 1). Commissioning is expected in October 2011. The plant will produce ethanol.

Support Infrastructure

Representatives of the Zambian, Burundian and Tanzanian governments are meeting to discuss the transformation of Mpulungu Port situated in Zambia at the southern end of Lake Tanganyika into a major port and transport hub. The objective is to boost regional intra-African trade and this will greatly facilitate the transport of agricultural commodities. .

The Lilongwe Water Board  is planning to construct a new dam on the Diampwe river in the central region of Malawi. Funding will have to be secured from the donor community and it is hoped that the project will commence in 2013. The project is multi-purpose in that it will supply drinking water to the population of Lilongwe, irrigation and water to support a fishing industry. The authorities also plan to establish a mini-hydro facility on the river. The project is part of the National Water Development Programme funded by the World Bank.

South African consulting engineers are currently working on the rehabilitation of Massingir dam in Mozambique situated close to the border of the Kruger National Park in the new transfrontier park. The first priority is strengthening of the 4 600 metre long earth embankment wall. This is being achieved by foundation grouting, construction of pressure relief wells, establishment of drainage structures and upgrading of the spillway with installation of instrumentation.

Special Projects

The Mozambican government has inaugurated a science and technology parks development programme. The programme entails four science and technology parks:: one in the north at Nampula; one in Zambezia in Mocuba; one in Sofala; and one in the south at Maluana, about 60 kilometres north of Maputo. A USD 20 million line of credit has been secured for the Maluana Park. It covers 360 hectares and is aimed at the ICT/telecommunications, agri-industry, energy; and infrastructure and building sectors.

Tanzania Distilleries is planning to produce semi-sweet wine using grapes grown by farmers in the Dodoma highlands. It will produce the international wine brand, Overmeer. Tanzania Distilleries is undertaking the project in partnership with Distell of South Africa. Local wine farmers will be trained in new techniques to improve the quality and yields of the grapes. The company has two cellars with a capacity of 800 tons per annum. Tanzania is sub-Saharan Africa’s second wine producer after South Africa albeit that acreage is limited at 1 000 hectares with about 150 hectares around Dodoma.

Te company Mekki Investments are looking to develop a land concession of 1 900 hectares for the establishment of an ostrich farm in Sudan. The intention is to recruit the assistance of ostrich specialists and to import relevant equipment.


Paul Runge, managing director of Africa Project Access, has recently published a book entitled Potholes & Profits. Business (& Other) Conversations & Experiences from Africa. Copies can be obtained via telephone 27 11 4656770 or e-mail: afric.projs@pixie.co.za website: www.africaprojectaccess.co.za


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