China Aids Corn Milling Plant in Zambia


Mar 14, 2023 | Agricultural Markets News

Reading time: 2 minutes

Zambia is a landlocked country at the crossroads of Central, Southern, and East Africa, with 19.6 million people. Corn, the most critical crop in Zambia, is widely cultivated in all the country’s 10 provinces, with the Central, Eastern, and Southern regions contributing more than 50% of this national staple food. According to the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), Zambia produced the most significant Corn crop in the 2021-22 marketing year, reaching 3.6 million tons, nearly 7% larger than the 3.4 million tons produced in 2020-21.

“Over the past 20 years, Zambia more than doubled production through a combination of increased area and productivity, turning the country into a net exporter of Corn,” the USDA report said. The USDA estimated that Zambia would consume about 2.4 million tons of Corn in 2021-22, leaving excess supplies available for exports to neighboring countries. Zambia is looking to the export market to support the country’s Corn farmers, some of whom have expanded into producing and exporting Corn, mealie-meal, Corn bran, wheat bran, soybeans, and soy cake.

During the 2021-22 marketing year, Zambia was reported to have authorized the issuance of export permits for 1.17 million tons of Corn to neighboring markets with a further allocation of 450,000 tons to the Food Reserve Agency (FRA), 270,000 tons to the Millers Association of Zambia and another 450,000 to the Grain Traders Association of Zambia, according to the USDA’s Famine Early Warning Systems (FEWS) Network, a leading provider of early warning and analysis on acute food insecurity around the world.

In fact, at the end of the last quarter of 2021, when the effects of COVID-19 were weighing heavily on Zambia’s economy, the country’s agriculture minister, Mtolo Phiri, said the Government could not pay farmers for Corn they supplied to the FRA. “There are no immediate plans to support the affected farmers,” he added. However, Phiri told the country’s Parliament that the Government was at the time mobilizing money to pay the Corn producers through various measures, such as allowing the FRA to sell some of the Corn to raise funds so that it could pay the affected farmers.

A New Corn Processing Plant in Zambia

A China-aided Corn milling plant built by COFCO Engineering Technology in Zambia was delivered for operation upon reaching production capacity and meeting standards through an acceptance test in late 2022. COFCO Engineering Technology was mainly responsible for the delivery and installation of the set of Corn milling equipment, instruction, and training, provision of technical information, and the design, manufacturing, and installation of the steel structure platform.

Against the raging pandemic and adverse conditions such as local shortage of materials and tropical diseases, COFCO Engineering Technology actively organized on-the-spot construction and improved epidemic prevention measures in a scientific manner for two years before the delivery of the project. Starting from April 2022, the Company has entered a three-year contract for technical services. The delivery of the project will play an active role in effectively safeguarding Zambia’s grain supply, stabilizing grain price, creating job opportunities, increasing people’s income, and enhancing coordinated economic and social development. 

Over the years, COFCO Engineering Technology has persisted in its specialty and focus, striving to seek growth through innovation and deliver outstanding performance through service. With meaningful pilot projects in the flour engineering field both at home and abroad, such as the Tajikistan wheat flour project, Belarus agricultural-industrial complex project, and wheat flour production line at the Guangzhou grain reserve center, COFCO Engineering Technology has integrated itself into China’s Belt and Road development strategy and laid a solid foundation for building a national brand and further expanding into overseas market. 

Other sources: COFCO

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