LUSAKA, July 4 (Xinhua) -- The Zambian government said on Wednesday that it was set to become a net exporter of palm oil in the region once its palm production projects becomes fully operational.
The country is currently involved in commercial palm oil production in the northern part of the country through a joint venture between the government and a private firm, Zambeef Products Plc.
The Ministry of Finance said the target was not only to satisfy the local demand but penetrate the regional market.
According to the statement, there was a huge market for palm oil in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) regional bloc, with countries such as the Democratic Republic of Congo and Angola being massive importers of the crude palm oil.
The statement noted that Zambia could generate more than 170 million dollars in revenue over the next decade from palm oil exports.
It added that the country was expected to see an increased demand for palm oil production as it further develops and new industries and markets are created.
The Zampalm project was launched in 2009 and currently has some 409,506 palms planted over an area of 2,873 hectares in the main plantation, with anther 39,000 seedlings in the main and pre-nursery.
In 2015, the first 1 million U.S. dollars crushing mill plant was commissioned with a crushing capacity of two to three tons of fresh palm fruit per hour.
The production and processing of crude palm oil was expected to drastically reduce the country's dependence on crude palm oil and edible oil imports, with current imports standing at 70 million dollars every year.
Zambia consumes about 120,000 tons of cooking oil but only produces 30-50 percent of the total supply, with more than half of Zambia's edible oil consumption imported from the Far East and South Africa.