Farmers and mines don’t have to be in conflict with each other. If we think about it, they actually need each other. Mines need a lot of fresh food for their permanent and contract workers and can provide a very lucrative market for farmers’ produce.
The time has arrived for agriculture and the mining industry to take hands and establish high level cooperation agreements. Kalumbila Minerals recently set up a horticulture bulking centre in partnership with the Private Enterprise Programme Zambia (PEPZ). The operation is 150 kilometres west of the town of Solwezi in the North Western Province of Zambia.
This bulking centre will offer farmers a centralised market location for their products, while technical assistance on the introduction of advanced agricultural technologies will enable farmers to participate in commercial value chains. But most important is that this project will allow the mine to source all their plant-based food locally. Importing horticultural products will be a thing of the past as soon as the centre is in full production.
This is fantastic news, but mines have a huge social responsibility budget to spend on their local communities and there are numerous of these projects all over the country. Basically, the mines are taking the initiative and calling the shots, while the power of food supply lies in the hands of our farmers.
The farmers and local communities are always those who suffer when mines expand or pollute the air or water supplies. The time has come for farmers to turn this imbalance around and to establish food supply co-operations around every mine in this country. Powerful interest groups driven by thousands of farmers is the best way to fight for their concerns, while they can deliver quality, fresh and the most affordable food to the mines. It is much better when farmers hold the mines to account to stick to the correct mining practices, than foreign activists, because they normally create a much bigger mess.
The Zambian mining industry employs about 80 000 people and many of them are expats from Western countries who demand high quality food, but they are willing to pay the price. Our farmers have all the power to supply in that demand and it is on their doorstep. How about rising to the occasion?
In this edition, United Fertilizers enlighten us about potash utilisation and Danatrack tells us more about themselves and their New Holland tractors. The current ban on livestock movement due to foot-and-mouth disease compelled Herdbook to present a farmers information day instead of their annual auction.
Du Preez de Villiers – email@example.com