Friday, January 29, 2010

14-year land lease for cane farmers at KASCOL expires

14-year land lease for cane farmers at KASCOL expires
By Mwala Kalaluka in Mazabuka
Fri 29 Jan. 2010, 04:00 CAT

THE 14-year land leasehold for the over a hundred small-older cane farmers at Kaleya Small-holders Company Limited (KASCOL) in Mazabuka has expired.

KASCOL chief executive officer Rama Varma told a visiting delegation from the African Development Bank (ADB), Finnish Embassy in Zambia and the Ministry of Agriculture last Tuesday that the company was in the process of re-extending the 160 small-holders’ land leasehold.

“The lease has expired. Now we are trying to extend the lease period for another 14 years,” Varma said.

Varma said the out grower company had teething problems in the beginning because it lacked the capacity to repay its loans but that it has been able to do that now.

“Today we are existing with no loans in our books of accounts,” he said. “Today when you look back it is a success story.”

However, Varma said they had continued to pay for water from the adjacent Zambia Sugar’s Nakambala Estate.

He also said in view of the tricky scenario in the procurement of fertiliser on the market, KASCOL usually procures the inputs in advance and supply to the small holder cane farmers on credit.

Varma said the yields among the small holder farmers varied but that on average the cane farmers could sell between K45 million and K50 million on an annual basis.

“The early cutting of cane does factor in problems,” said Varma. “Those people who are cutting their cane early stand to lose out.”

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