By Nawa Mutumweno
Norwegian firm, Yara International has been officially launched in Zambia, taking over the operations of Greenbelt Fertilizers Limited at a cost of about $51 million.
Whereas the transaction was first announced in December 2015, it was subject to approval by the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA).
Greenbelt Fertilizers is a leading fertilizer distributor for Zambia, Malawi and Zambia.
Yara International says it has been motivated to acquire Greebelt Fertilizers Limited due to the investment-friendly policies introduced by the Zambian government which are conducive to business, thus attracting long-term investment into the country.
Yara business unit downstream Africa chief executive officer, Bernhard Fonsenka, said by acquiring Greenbelt Fertilizers, Yara will be able to provide sustainable crop nutrition, increase crop yields and farmers’ incomes.
‘’We invested in Zambia because we were motivated by the investment-friendly attitude that we have witnessed through the process of this acquisition. We observed that investment authorities, regulators and partners, all have the determination to attract long-term commitment by easing the cost of doing business,’’ he said at the launch of Yara Zambia on May 4, 2016.
‘’While Yara boasts of its ability to deliver the world’s best agronomic practices and resources to local farmers, it will continue to ensure that the farmer remains at the heart of everything we do with the aim of sustainably increasing their profitability, thereby improving their livelihood,’’ he added.
Speaking earlier, Agriculture deputy minister, Maxus Ngónga said the coming in of Yara in the agriculture sector will bring competition in the marketing of fertilizer.
‘’This investment has come at a time when Zambia is diversifying its economy and our commitment is not only to make Zambia the food basket of the region, but also attract investments that will help us achieve that dream.
‘’As a nation, we are delighted to have a new entrant in the fertilizer sector because this creates competition and helps to push the prices of the product down for the benefit of the farmer,’’ he elaborated.
Norwegian ambassador to Zambia, Arve Ofstad is optimistic that Yara, as a commercial producer of fertilizer, will add value to the Zambian economy through job creation and better yields for farmers.