Natfoods invests US$12m in contract farming

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HARARE – Agro-industrial firm, National Foods (Natfoods) says it has invested US$12 million towards contract farming during the 2022-23 farming season.

The group’s contract scheme is managed by its unit Paperhole Investments (PHI) Commodities which is responsible for the production of crops such as maize, soya beans, and sorghum.

The company also procures grain from local farmers as well as imports to cover domestic shortfalls.

Natfoods chief executive Mr Michael Lashbrook said the group was engaged in other various investments aimed at improving raw material supply and capacity.

“The total hectarage for the current summer season under the A Growth/PHI scheme for which National Foods provides an off-take is 4 250 hectares (of) maize, 7 500 hectares (of) soya, and 760 hectares (of) sorghum.

“The total investment made by A Growth/PHI under the scheme is around US$12 million,” he said.

In line with Government policy under the National Development Strategy 1 (NDS1) and more specifically, the Agriculture and Food Systems Strategy, Natfoods also aims to increase production from both the contract farming and corporate farming divisions.

NatFoods operations span from flour and maize milling business, pre-packing and the sale of dry groceries.

The group is also involved in the manufacturing of stock feeds.

During the 2022 winter season, the company planted around 12 000 hectares of wheat.

In addition, 40 000 tonnes of maize and soya beans were delivered from the prior cropping season.

The company is currently engaged on a phased three-year upgrade of the Aspindale stockfeed plant, which commenced in 2022.

“This commenced in 2022 with a plant automation project, which was commissioned at the end of 2022. This year there will be further improvements to the product handling and manufacturing plant,” said Mr Lashbrook.

He noted that progress had also been made on the installation of the new flour mill in Bulawayo which will be commissioned early next year.

“The installation of the new flour mill is progressing smoothly and is still expected to be commissioned in March 2023,” he said.

In a recent update, National Foods indicated that it would invest US$30 million in new projects that will see a reduction in imports of selected products.