‘PARTNER WITH ZAMBIAN FARMERS’, BELGIUM’S LARGEST FRESH PRODUCE RETAILER TOLD
One of Belgium’s largest fresh produce retailer Colruyt has pledged to work with the Zambian Embassy in Brussels to foster partnership cooperation with Local Farmers in Zambia.
Zambia’s Ambassador to Belgium Prof. Esther Munalula Nkandu undertook a tour of Colruyts Distribution Centre to assess possibilities of partnering with agricultural produce suppliers and Farmers in Zambia and enable them to export their produce to the wider Belgian Market.
The Ambassador told Colruyts Group of Companies, Chief Executive Officer Mr. Jeff Colruyt that the Zambian government had made deliberate policies to attract foreign direct investment through the introduction of fiscal and non-fiscal incentives for investors.
She further explains that there were systems in place such as farmers associations that ensures that Zambian agricultural produce meets international standards.
She said that the launch of the country’s Seventh National Development Plan – 7NDP which lists Agriculture as a priority sector had seen tremendous strides in the quality of produce by local farmers.
Prof. Munalula-Nkandu further added that Zambia’s geographical location, weather, and political stability are some of the attributes that make the country an investment destination of choice.
‘There are so many attributes that I can list that make our country stand out to be the best investment destination in the region. To start with, Zambia has good weather patterns that enable higher yields and increase productivity in the agricultural sector. Furthermore, Zambia has numerous farmers that produce organic produce, which appeals to a fast growing niche market in the EU.
As Zambia we have some minimal quantities of produce such as honey and coffee in the European stores, so this alone speaks volumes on the strides Zambia has taken to ensure quality control in Zambian agricultural produce.
One of the main challenge facing Zambia farmers was their limitations in accessing international markets, and therefore among my priority work in my tenure of office would would be to ensure Zambian produce penetrates the Belgian market.
May I also take this opportunity to inform you that our government recently singed a Memorandum of Understanding with Luxembourg The Bilateral on Air Services Agreement so this will guarantee you fresh produce’, Ambassador Munalula-Nkandu said.
And Colruyt Group Chief Executive Officer, Jeff Colruyt says he would ensure that his team begins to look at how they could partner with Zambian local farmers for their produce to penetrate European markets.
Mr Colruyt further informed the Ambassador that his company would work with the embassy to see how they could facilitate internships for Zambian students and exchange programs to teach them on various techniques in relation to food quality, health and safety as well as renewable energy.
Colruyt is a family group of companies which started in 1900 and has grown over the years to offer retails chains and own brands with presence in three countries – Belgium, Luxembourg and France.
The Company has continued to maintain a slot as one of the cheapest retailers in Belgium, with over 4.5 million customers in Belgium, twenty-nine thousand employees, and a turn over of 9.4 billion euros.
Phyllis Chilekwa (Ms)
First Secretary – Press and Public Relations
Embassy of the Republic of Zambia
Brussels – Belgium