Olam injects $15m into Northern Coffee Corporation

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OLAM International of Singapore, the investor running Northern Coffee Corporation (NCC) has so far spent more than US$15 million out of the US$40-million investment staked for Zambia’s largest coffee estate.

Olam which took over operations of Northern Coffee Corporation from Zambia Development Agency (ZDA) in September 2012 started operations this year and has so far employed close to 1,200 people in Northern Province.

Olam International announced last year that it had acquired 100 per cent equity interest in NCC for approximately US$6.15 million through a bidding process organised by ZDA.

A further $40 million was committed as capital expenditure and pre-operative expenditure to fully develop 2,000 hectares of the Arabica coffee plantation over the next five years.

In an interview in Lusaka, Olam International country head Varun Mahajan said the company had so far spent between US$15 million to US$17 million on the acquiring of the farm, infrastructure development and equipment.

“We have so far invested between $15 million and $17 million on the acquiring of the farm, infrastructure development which includes irrigation, farming equipment and on the operations,” Mr Mahajan said.

He said the company had so far employed close to 1,200 local people in Kasama, adding that as a result, the economic levels in the area had improved drastically.

Mr Mahajan said the firm had started replanting the coffee, mounted the irrigation system, adding that by the end of this month, it would irrigate 1,500 hectares.

“We are still pushing ahead because our main objective is to plant coffee and because the land has not been worked upon for the last six to seven years so we want to do a crop rotation of some other crops, before we finally put in the coffee,” he said.

The estate is expected to yield approximately 4,500 tonnes of Arabica coffee beans by 2021 at steady-state.

Mr Mahajan said the firm was still going ahead with the outgrower scheme project.