At least seven African countries had approached Senekal Farming (South Africa) with various offers to start sugar projects but it was Zambia that won the hearts and minds of this mega-farming sugar operation, said Dreyer Senekal speaking at the Zambia Seminar hosted by Agri All Africa in Centurion, South Africa.
Senekal (jnr), son of mega-farmer Charl Senekal, said Senekal Farming was ready to start farming in Zambia after eight investigative visits.
Land and People
“Zambia’s got it all. Wonderful people, water supply, roads, power networks and a development mindset. One can contact high ranking government officials simply by picking up the phone; land can be secured through 99 year leases or title, and the government is stable and committed,” said Senekal.
South African farmers faced challenges in land reform, poor rural security, possible water scarcity and lack of government support. Although farm security had not been as issue 10 to 15 years ago, farmers now had to factor security in as a per hectare or per ton cost, Senekal said.
He said his family did not expect farming in Zambia to be completely problem free and testing conditions were part of agriculture.
South African farmers had an edge in that they could use their domestic agri-businesses to gear their expansion programmes in other countries, where land was often cheaper than in SA. Organisations like Agri All Africa could help farmers find land in areas suited to specific crop requirements, he said.
In answer to a question put to him by the chairman of Agri All Africa, Dr Theo de Jager, as to why his family had specifically chosen Zambia, Senekal said that as irrigation farmers they liked to see water and were impressed with Zambia from that aspect.
“Water is going to become a major issue in the future. If you have water you can plant anything.”
Road access to Zambia from South Africa makes it possible to load heavy machinery such as tractors onto trucks and drive into the country rather than fly the machinery in which was an added attraction said Senekal.
– Carien Kruger