Creating inclusive and sustainable growth in the local communities


Farmer Enrolment

A team from Vana Global, India visited Zambia with the objectives of introducing Vana Zambia at the Luapula Investment Expo held in Mansa and the Kawambwa district and to solicit local political and bureaucratic authorities for the launch of Vana’s farmer program in the region.

Vana’s partner, Sunbird Bioenergy is establishing a bioethanol factory in Kawambwa. The team conducted an exploratory study for a period of 10 days, visited 8 villages around Kawambwa and one village near Ndola. The farmer meetings were organized with assistance from the agricultural department and local political representatives. Emphasis was laid on the partnership between the farmers and Vana. Vana successfully enlisted 1210 farmers, a significant number of which are women.

Sunbird Bioenergy Africa is establishing a 120 mm litres bioethanol plant at Kawambwa locate in the Luapula Province. Cassava is the primary feedstock to extract ethanol. Sunbird has already procured 8,000 hectares of land through the Govt. of Zambia to conduct captive cultivation of cassava. Additionally, Sunbird requires at least 20,000 hectares of out-grower farmers in the region to supply cassava for its plant. To achieve this, farmer interaction and sensitization programs need to be conducted. A working relationship needs to be established with district officials and government representatives of Kawambwa. Vana’s concept of farmer partnership for the out-grower program was to be launched and showcased at an investment expo.

The Vana team undertook a soft launch of Vana Zambia at the Luapula Investment Expo where it interacted with potential investors, farmers, government officials and other visitors and explained the farmer partnership program being developed by Vana at Kawambwa. The significant event at the expo was the visit of the President of Zambia, Mr. Edward Lungu, to the Vana stall. He mentioned that he was very much looking forward for the start of Vana’s farmer’s out-grower program at Kawambwa to support the Sunbird bioethanol plant. The Vana team established contacts with the district officials and local political administration in order to seek their cooperation in conducting farmer sensitization programs around the Kawambwa district headquarters. The Sunbird plant was located close to the headquarters and the plan was to map the villages and potential farmer base around the plant location. Since the agriculture department had already identified farm camps in the district it became easy to chalk out a program to visit the village, interact with the farmers. Executives from the district agriculture department accompanied the Vana team to accomplish the tasks.

Since Vana is an agriculture management company and its primary objective is to work with the smallholder farmers closely through the agriculture cycle, the first step was to sensitize the farmers regarding the farmer partnership program and its advantages. The farmers in the Kawambwa region have been growing cassava using rudimentary farm practices. Vana approached the local communities with a solution to improve their farming practices, explaining the importance of having a ready market close to them in the form of Sunbird bioethanol plant and how it will benefit them in partnering with Vana. The Vana team held extensive discussions with the local communities and clarified their apprehensions and doubts. At each farmer meeting the team enrolled farmers and gathered some details from them. This would help in understanding the potential of the region to develop the out-grower program. The team identified the potential suppliers of inputs – fertilizers and pesticides. It also undertook dialog with Zambia Agriculture Research Institute to develop and supply quality cassava seed sticks for the farmers.

The team was able to visit 8 villages and enrol 1210 farmers. From the various interactions with the farmers the Vana team understood the major issues faced by them in the region – land clearance, lack of irrigation, failure of cooperatives, input and output price fluctuation, limited access to formal market, network issues in terms of transport and communication, and absence of processing and storage facilities of agricultural produce. Of the 29 camps identified by the local administration, the team was able to visit 5 camps and managed to enrol more than 1000 farmers. This clearly shows the potential of the region. Vana got a great reception for the local community and the farmers were eager to work with the out-grower program. They expect that the program will help in income generation and a better standard of living.

Vana Zambia will be establishing a farmers’ centre, to register farmers for the pilot, train them with field officers, and commence operations by supplying the necessary inputs to the farmers. Once the pilot phase is kicks off and operations smoothen, Vana will conduct a drive to recruit farmers and further expand the out-grower program. The pilot phase includes working with 1500 farmers and the subsequent phase will have 5000 farmers on board. Vana will also develop a nursery for Sunbird’s captive cultivation which will be a model for the out-grower program. Vana will be looking at intercropping in order to open up more opportunities to increase income of the farmers.


Maize Outgrower Program

Chimanga Changa Pvt. Ltd. Is one of the oldest mill in the Ndola region of Zambia. It sources its maize from as far as Mkushi, 200 kms away and also from the Copperbelt Region and Food Reserve Agency.

As the sources are small holder farmers the stock of maize are usually less. The team was given a guided tour of the mill by Mr. Kelvin, the Plant Manager. The mill manufactures two types of meals- the Breakfast meal and the Roller meal. Meal is transported to the Zambia-Congo border from where it is exported to the Democratic Republic of Congo. Chimanga Changa does have a few competitors namely Jumbo, Olympic and Global mills. Hence it very important to have constant supply of maize input to retain customers.

The distance and the scarce availability of maize halts the working of the plant. The plant is in dire need of inputs as the mill is being run at a low capacity. The maize if sourced in bulk is prone to pest and rot. Also, the irregular supply of the maize is contributing to high storage and warehouse costs. Mr. Sajeewa Vithanage studied the 48 hectare Schultz farm on the banks of Kafubu river just 15 kms away from Ndola. Only 15 Hectares of the farm is currently being used. There is a scope the land under cultivation as it land is the blessed with good water resources. The Kafubu river has a dam constructed which facilitates good water for the farm. The farm was producing excess quantity of maize which was being stored due to low prices being offered.

Vana aims to bridge the gap between the two entities. One with excess and rotting produce and the other with the need of produce for manufacturing. The Schultz farm was envisioned to be a model plot. The pilot was to start with growing maize in the 48 Ha and provide the same to the Chimanga Changa mill. Vana will take care of selling the produce from the farm. Vana will also make sure that there is constant supply to the mill. In the later stages, the plot will provide seeds to the farmers around to encourage growing of maize. The seeds will be given for free and the produce to be bought by Vana from the outgrowers. The Schultz Farm will serve as a demo plot for the farmers and outgrowers. The idea was to implement modern practices like mychoriza and biofertilizers. The farmers will be educated with the pests and diseases that affect Maize and the means to deal with it. This serves Vana’s mission of educating and uplifting the farmers.

The farm also grows soya beans, cassava, sweet potato, chillies, strawberries, granadilla, guava and moringa. After the sucess of the maize pilot the same can be implemented with the rest of the crops. The farmers can also learn about the choices they have Vana will help find a market for the produce. Mr. A. H. Gupta, the Finance Controller, who gave insights about the functioning of the mill. The maize is broken into 3 different varieties: grit, flour and meal. The wastes of the mill are right now being disposed of, only a part of it is being used for animal feed. Every bit of it can be utilised and made into a compost. Vana plans to utilise the same for the demo plots and distribute them among the outgrowers.

The 60 year old factory produces mealie-meal, which is the staple food in Zambia, establishing a lot of potential for it to expand in the future. Vana Outgrower program will make way for building an ecosystem around the plant. This will be a one stop solution for Chimanga Changa Pvt Ltd. The program will ensure that Vana has a foothold in the Copperbelt region. The cobs and the by product from the mill will serve as inputs for Teravana Bioenergy. In the near future, the Maize growers can also supply to Teravana Bioenergy to produce Ethanol.