The Commercial Agribusiness for Sustainable Horticulture (CASH) project has signed a multi-million kwacha agreement with Zambia’s largest Fruits & Vegetables processing company-Neelkanth Fresh Foods Limited formerly known as Freshpikt which will channel sales of about KR25 million to 5000 farmers in Lusaka and Eastern Provinces annually.
CASH is a project under the United States government’s Feed The Future Initiative which supports country-owned plans for improving food security and harnesses the power of the private sector and research to transform agricultural development. The CASH project, being implemented by Agribusiness in Sustainable Natural African Plant Products (ASNAPP), is developing new market opportunities for smallholder farmers in Lusaka, Chipata, Katete, Lundazi and Petauke by fostering strategic alliances and partnerships and improving the in-country delivery capacity to produce and market superior quality, sustainably grown horticultural products.
The project has joined forces with Neelkanth Freshfoods Limited to meet their mutual market objectives which will see a purchase of about 20 000 tonnes of horticultural produce annually. Agro-processing and value addition is central to the CASH project and attention is given to the production of these crops for local processing. Products currently in focus include Tomatoes, White beans & Groundnuts among other.
Speaking at the signing ceremony, Neelkanth Freshfoods Managing Director, Maheshwar Bandam said that the company’s agribusiness objectives would be greatly assisted by the CASH project.
Neelkanth Fresh Foods will be the first local Fruits & Vegetables processing Company in Zambia to buy in such huge quantities of fresh products like Tomatoes, Groundnuts & White beans on daily & regular basis.
Further it has a huge requirement of Mangoes, Pineapples, Strawberries, etc for processing in its factory for manufacturing different related products for the local & international markets.
“We have a projected sales volume in processed products of around KR25 million for 2013, growing to approximately KR75 million annually by 2014, and we will put our full weight behind this project. Neelkanth Freshfoods Limited has a key interest in the development of the horticulture industry in Zambia. We look forward to assisting the Zambian horticultural production and processing industry to grow and increase its capacity. I am pleased to inform you that our company will make a purchase/investment commitment of about, 8000 tonnes of tomatoes, 5000 tonnes of groundnuts and 260 tonnes of white beans per year to support the CASH project,” said Mr. Bandam.
Since October 2012 Neelkanth Freshfoods Limited has made a significant investment of approximately KR 12.5 million and plans to make a further invest of about KR37.5 million in the upgrading of its processing facilities in Lusaka during 2013. This will be the only large scale factory for processing and distribution of produce to both local and international markets. To be able to supply high quality and safe food products to all its consumers, Neelkanth Freshfoods Limited will invest KR500 000 annually in training to ensure that the farmers in the project develop into sustainable entrepreneurs. This investment will enable Neelkanth Freshfoods Limited to increase production of processed horticultural products three fold and improve product quality at the same time.
CASH Chief of Party, Dr. Petrus Langenhoven said the aim of the project was to support smallholder farmers to grow high quality products in sufficient quantities and assist them to supply the products on a regular basis and at the right quality to private sector markets identified.
“This partnership will be beneficial to both entities given that Neelkanth Freshfoods Limited is in need of quality product which the CASH project is able to facilitate production of,” said Dr. Langenhoven.
Neelkanth Freshfoods Limited is a market driven manufacturer of high quality processed and canned fruit and vegetables, which are primarily grown in Zambia and processed in accordance with international standards for Food Safety and Quality Management. The company, originally known as Freshpikt, was formed in 2005 to purchase, rehabilitate and operate an existing, but derelict and non – operational food processing facility situated in Lusaka Zambia, formerly known as Zamhort. During 2012 Freshpikt was liquidated and sold to Neelkanth Freshfoods Limited, an associate company of the Export Trading Group.