By BUUMBA CHIMBULU
OVER K2.4 billion has been invested in the agriculture sector from 2013 to date by SilverStreet Capital, which is an impact investor.
SilverStreet Capital which runs three investments in Zambia, namely, Zamseed, Silverlands Ranching Limited and Silverlands Zambia, has invested over K2.4 billion (USD115 million) in its Zambian operations resulting in the creation of over 800 jobs.
Gary Vaughan-Smith, the SilverStreet’s Chief Investment Officer, said the increase in employment reflected its optimism about the medium-term prospects for the Zambian economy.
This, Mr Vaughan-Smith explained, was despite the uncertainty caused by Covid-19 and the difficult economic conditions at present.
He said this when taking stock of the investor’s performance in the year 2020.
“Zambia has huge potential in its agricultural sector and I am proud of the job creation that has resulted from our investment,” Mr Vaughan-Smith said.
SilverStreet made its first investment into Zambia with Silverlands Ranching in 2013 and has since invested into two grains businesses in 2014 and 2015, and most recently Zamseed in 2018.
The first, Silverlands Ranching, is a beef value chain and cropping business in the Southern Province that has become a major agricultural operation that includes a 9,000-cattle capacity feedlot and veterinary extension service benefiting 1,800 smallholder farmers in 35 communities and their 35,000 cattle.
New cattle dipping services introduced after SilverStreet’s investment in 2013 mean that these 35,000 community cattle are now regularly dipped through weekly sessions in each community.
Commenting on this, Mr Vaughan-Smith said over 260 jobs had been created at the remote location but that the impact was even greater than it was currently because the incomes of 1,800 smallholder cattle farmers was being raised.
Additionally, he said, community cattle mortality rates had dropped to around two percent per annum from nine percent since the company introduced dipping.
“We are backing management to help create a regional seed business platform at Zamseed.
“Switching from farm-saved seed to Zamseed’s hybrid seed can double smallholder farmers’ yields per hectare, in particular if accompanied by the use of conservation farming techniques – this is transformational,” Mr Vaughan-Smith said.
Chairman of Zamseed, and a board member of Silverlands Ranching, Jordan Soko, said SilverStreet was a confident and consistent investor into Zambia.
Mr Soko said its investments had boosted Zambia’s agricultural sector and positively impacted thousands of smallholder farmers.
“In the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, I look forward to helping its investments continue to expand and provide employment,” Mr Soko said.
By BUUMBA CHIMBULU