New Delhi, Jul 31 (UNI) The Indian Council of Food and Agriculture has signed an agreement with the Ministry of Defence, Republic of Zambia, wherein the African country will offer 500,000 hectares in each of its 10 provinces on 99 years of lease to ICFA, which develop agricultural projects on it, in collaboration with Indian companies and institutions.
In the first stage, ICFA will be doing pilot at 10,000 hectares of land in Shibuyunji District near Lusaka, the Zambian capital.
According to M J Khan, Chairman ICFA, there are tremendous business opportunities in agriculture and animal husbandry, particularly agro-processing, Livestock and Fisheries, Floriculture in Zambia. In the current context, livestock production and bovine meat is a big opportunity in Zambia, given the strong market for the same in gulf region.
This investment in agriculture can secure food for Zambian people and also boost agribusiness opportunities and agro-food trade for Indian companies and entrepreneurs. The investors can also export the agriculture produce to other neighbouring African countries and Middle East, Dr Khan said, adding that Zambian government is committed to offer investor friendly environment to carry out business. He said this is first time that the Defence ministry of any country has offered land blocks under its control to any foreign organisation.
ICFA Director General Alok Sinha, who visited Lusaka to finalise the deal, said since this particular project has been offered by the Permanent Secretary of Presidential Affairs through the Defence ministry, which has been made the nodal body, there will be virtually no road blocks and hiccups, as is generally observed in many African country deals, and it will be a time-bound initiative.
”We are in process of shortlisting the prospective investors, farmers, agro-enterprenurs and Indian institutions, who are willing to join hands with ICFA and invest in Africa.
”Investors will be shortlisted on first come first served basis. ICFA will select partners from each vertical for this prestigious pilot project, considering the professionalism and track record of respective organisations, Mr Sinha said.
For feasibility study and project facilitation, ICFA has already enrolled the International Agriculture Consulting Group (IACG) and the Falcon International Consultants, UAE ( FIC ), who have done preliminary survey of the project site. The deal will be jointly executed by these two agencies on behalf of the ICFA.
The Zamibian Ministry of Defense and ICFA will be jointly responsible to commercialise the land provided and exploit it to its full potential, using relevant expertise.