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Zambia to set up $150 million sugar plantation

Spanish and Indian investors are competing to invest in a $150 million sugar plantation that Zambia plans to set up this year, a senior official has said. Zambia Investments Centre (ZIC) acting director general, Chalimba Phiri, said a feasibility study had been concluded on the Luena Sugar Plantation in the north of the country, which will process sugar and by-products such as ethanol.

He said that the project had also drawn interest from a local business consortium. "We are set to take off with the project this year and it has attracted a Spanish company and some Indian investors who are currently on site checking out a great many things," Phiri told Reuters in Johannesburg, where he was attending a Zambian investment conference.

"The plantation will have the capacity to produce 250,000 tonnes of sugar." Luena has 100,000 hectares of virgin land of which only 30,000 hectares will be used for growing and processing sugar while the rest had been earmarked for growing other export crops. Luena will be Zambia's second biggest sugar producer after Zambia Sugar Plc, majority owned by South Africa's Illovo Sugar.

Phiri said that the government had committed $30 million for infrastructure such as roads, health institutions, schools, water and power for the surrounding community.

"The rest of the money will come from whichever investor that is selected. We have been given some very good bids and we should be selecting one of those bids some time this year after which, construction should start immediately," Phiri said. Phiri said that the investor picked for the project would grow cane on a 10,000 hectare farm while 20,000 would be for small-scale farmers on an out-grower scheme to be supported by the investor. "It will have great impact on reducing poverty and raising the income of the local people," he added.


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