ABOUT US$10 million has been invested in a chicken processing plant which was commissioned at the weekend in Siavonga District.
Mathaniah Investments Limited chairperson John Sangwa said the company spent the money to set up Southern Chickens Processing Plant, having received 50 hectares of land from Chief Simamba.
Mr Sangwa said the company which has created 160 local jobs has an installed capacity of 2,000 chickens per hour.
"The plant was designed for 4,000 chickens per hour, but right now the installed capacity is 2,000, largely because certain processes are being done manually.
"If only we can automate other processes, we can go beyond 4,000 birds per hour," he said.
The construction of the processing plant started on June 2, 2013 and by June 9, this year, Southern Chicken slaughtered the first chickens.
Mr Sangwa said he started the business with 250 chickens in his backyard in Kalundu and ended up to be the biggest grower in Zambia.
"There are a number of challenges faced as a grower, because your future growth is tied to the growth of the processors.
"Now I reached a stage where I could not grow anymore and I found myself with future capacity which was not being utilised.
"Therefore, going into processing of what I was growing, became a natural progression, in terms of growth of the business," Mr Sangwa said.
He noted that the grower, grows the chickens and somebody adds value and sales directly to the market, hence the decision to go into processing so as to overcome these challenges.
Mr Sangwa said that one of the reasons of settling for that area was that there was need to look forward into the future and his reading of the environment was such that most of the chickens were produced in Lusaka.
He said Lusaka was growing very fast and as a result, there was competition between human beings and livestock, adding that with that competition, comes diseases.
"So to avoid such experiences I decided to move and invest outside in an isolated area free of diseases, because the main concern has been that of bio-security," he said.
Mr Sangwa said the plant located at farm number 11557 Siavonga Road, had a number of benefits which could not be seen on the surface unfortunately.
He said the area had a number of opportunities notwithstanding the fact that the main market for the products remains Lusaka.