“In collaboration with a farmer we have achieved to yield 13 tons of wheat per hectare.”

Interview with Bertie Serfontein, Managing Director, Omnia Fertilizer Zambia Ltd, exhibitor at the upcoming Agritech Expo in Chisamba in April.

1.    What Products, services and projects of Omnia are you most excited about?
Omnia Fertilizer Zambia Limited is a subsidiary company of Omnia Holdings Limited involved in supplying various fertilizer products and services to the crop farming sub sector in Zambia.

Omnia Fertiliser Zambia has been established in Zambia for 22 years with a steady clientele base of prominent Commercial farmers, Small Scale farmers, Corporate farming estates, Farmer’s Associations, NGOs and various government-supported schemes among them FISP, ZNS and Prison Service farms. Omnia’s approach has been to provide extension services and technical support to farmers who choose to purchase its products from us.

Our Company Vision: “Creating customer wealth by leveraging knowledge”

The company has made huge investments into applying state of the art production technology at its manufacturing facilities, thereby guaranteeing top quality granulated fertilizer products for all its clients. It also prides itself in being a consistent and competitively priced supplier of a wide range of high quality fertilisers not only for the Zambian market but also across most of the sub region. The company’s products have an unmistakable reputation for reliability and visible good performance in the farmer’s field.

The total range of fertiliser products, ranging from basil to top dressing, water soluble, specialities and foliars, available at the company, is able to cater for most horticultural crops, field crops and plantation crops grown under different Zambian conditions.

In upholding its corporate social responsibility, Omnia has for some years been helping the University of Zambia upgrade facilities at the School of Agriculture and assisting vulnerable students with scholarships and sponsorships. At Zambia Agriculture Research Institute (ZARI) in Chilanga at Mount Makulu, the company has helped the institution with the improvement of water supply systems to the research laboratories. This is all in line with the company’s stated philosophy on corporate social responsibility, under which a substantial amount of money will be ploughed back into similar community projects around the country.

2.    What makes your company competitive in this market?
•    Consistent high quality of products
•    Graduate agronomists in the field
•    Sharing of well-informed agronomic advice
•    Having the farmers’ best interest at heart

3.    Any projects or success stories you would like to share?
•    In collaboration with a farmer we have achieved to yield 13 tons of wheat per hectare.
•    Our project with the University of Zambia caused such growth in Agricultural students that we had to build an additional lecture room.

4.    What in your view are the main challenges for the agricultural sector in Zambia?
In this regard it is a combination of a lack of both infrastructure and market availability. Whatever you can produce will have to be sold in either Lusaka or the Copperbelt, those are the only two markets. Due to the poor infrastructure, distribution expenses are very high and making local production uncompetitive. Being land locked with poor infrastructure, exports are virtually out of the question and we have seen all exporting agro companies going into bankruptcy.

Only subsidizing one sector (small scale) is another big problem inhibiting commercial farmer growth.

5.    What advice would you give someone who is interested in investing in the Zambian agri-sector?
Ensure you have a market for the product you want to produce and then make sure you are close to that market.

6.    What is your vision of the sector, also in terms of the region?
Zambia has the potential to be the bread basket of Southern Africa, unfortunately you cannot eat or sell potential. Until such time that big money is spent on infrastructural development, this potential will be untapped. If the market is created the commercial farmer will produce the product.

7.    What surprises you about the sector?
•    How easily we can be into overproduction in this sector
•    The vast difference from the Commercial sector to the Small Scale sector

8.    Why did you decide to partner with AgriTech Expo?
In RSA Omnia has for many years been involved in the very successful NAMPO. We see that this AgriTech Expo can become the “NAMPO” of Zambia

9.    What will be your main message at AgriTech Expo?
That Omnia is geared and ready to partner with the agricultural sector and take up any growth with our vision at heart of “Creating customer wealth by leveraging knowledge.”

10.    Anything you would like to add?
We trust and hope that AgriTech Expo will become the NAMPO in Zambia.

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