AgDevCo backs Zambian farm with $5m

The UK-based DFI plans to use the farm as a hub for a regional development effort aiming to stimulate commercial agriculture in the southern African nation.

Africa farmer, malawi sugar cane

The UK-based DFI plans to use the farm as a hub for a regional development effort aiming to stimulate commercial agriculture in the southern African nation.

Africa Agriculture Development Company, a UK-backed social impact fund, has invested $5.05 million in Katito Farming Enterprise of Zambia.

Katito’s farm is located in the country’s north and the investment comes as part of AgDevCo’s Northern Zambia Agricultural Hub initiative, which aims to provide training and employment while stimulating commercial agriculture in the region.

“The region has experienced a lack of investment due to its remote location and lack of infrastructure,” AgDevCo explains on its website. “However, developments on the ground are positive with significant interest from commercial investors.”

AgDevCo’s investment will allow the farm to immediately expand corn production, with future plans calling for expansion into soybeans, wheat, groundnuts and seed potatoes. The hope is that the expanding production at the facility will help attract input suppliers, logistics providers, processing companies and others to invest in the region.

In addition to its role in attracting commercial investment in Zambia, AgDevCo said the support for Katito was designed to help strengthen food security in neighboring Burundi, Rwanda and the eastern portions of the Democratic Republic of Congo.

“Other players in the agricultural value chain should look at the regional food demand as a huge opportunity for Northern Province,” added AgDevCo country director for Zambia, Nigel Seabrook.

The Katito farm will also be used to provide agricultural training and demonstrations for the region’s 10,000 smallholder farmers and AgDevCo’s said that its investment includes measures designed to ensure land tenure for communities to the south of the farm.

Since entering the country in 2012, AgDevCo has invested $16.5 million across multiple projects in Zambia, including support for companies focused on groundnut processing, grain storage and potato production. By helping link more than 14,000 smallholder farmers to local markets, it claims the investments have already driven a $153 per-smallholder farmer increase in income.

AgDevCo focuses exclusively on Africa’s agricultural sector, using support from the UK’s Department for International Development to make debt and equity investments.  Since its founding in 2009, it has invested $100 million in nearly 60 different early-stage agribusinesses.