Northern Province has no major industry and its primary economic activity is agriculture. Farming, fishing and trading are the mainstay of the majority of the population. The economy of this region is primarily driven by Agriculture.
There are very few farmers who grow crops on a commercial basis. Most of the people are peasant subsistence farmers. Major crops produced in the province include; cassava, millet, sorghum, groundnuts, beans, maize and rice.
Investment opportunities in agriculture include cultivation of maize, finger millet, rice, cassava, sweet potatoes, common beans, soybeans, groundnuts, fruits and vegetables. Others are floriculture, coffee, sugarcane, Jatropha, Palm-oil and Moringa production, rearing of livestock such as cattle, goats, sheep, pigs, poultry and honey production. The Northern Province is ranked fourth in maize production, second in groundnut and cassava production in Zambia. Millet production is also increasing to meet local domestic demand and industrial uses in other parts of the country. The Province is also a leading producer of beans.
It is a tropical plant which is indigenous to Africa, Coffee Arabica from Ethiopia and Coffee Robusta from the Congo. Coffee Arabica is the variety of economic importance and is the sole choice for fine coffee production. The trees require a lot of water with an annual rainfall requirement of 1,500mm. The preferred altitude is between 350 and 2,100 m, and required optimum temperature is between 21 and 39o C. All these natural factors are present in most parts of the Province.
So far Northern Province can be considered as the “Coffee Hub” of the country, contributing about 50% of Zambia’s coffee exports. The plantations lie at an altitude of 1,200 – 1,500m along the slopes of the Great Rift Valley, overlooking Africa’s deepest lake – Tanganyika. The plantations, producing coffee of international quality, are found in Kasama, Mungwi and Mbala Districts. However, all the other Districts in the Province have excellent agro-climatic conditions with abundant rainfall and irrigation water sources for continuous coffee production.
Sugar has been one of Zambia’s main exports for over three decades, with the establishment of Zambia Sugar Company PLC (formerly Nakambala Sugar Estates) in Mazabuka in Southern Province. Zambia produces world-class sugar that competes favorably on the international market. At the moment however, the country is unable to satisfy the demand of the export market. Northern Province has great potential for the establishment of sugarcane plantations. Currently, only Kasama Sugar Estate; one of the three sugar companies in the country, is producing sugar in the Province. Sugar production in Northern Province is far from meeting both the local and export market demands. The Province has enormous water and land resources in the form of hydromorphic areas (marsh or wetlands or dambos) with favorable climatic conditions for commercial sugarcane production that is possible even under irrigation.
Rice (Oryza sativa L.) has been a very important cash crop in Northern Province for many years. The crop is produced on the Chambeshi Flood Plains and in lake depressions of Bangweulu, and Mweru-wa-Ntipa swamps. Production of this crop is insufficient despite abundant water, land and human resources, and favorable agro-climatic conditions
Rice, apart from being a cash crop, is a high-value low-input crop (in terms of fertilizers), and can serve as an insurance crop or a substitute for maize which requires high input levels. In addition, rice is more nutritious and more digestible than most cereals. Demand for rice in the country cannot be met as production is very low despite the availability of suitable rice growing land. The shortfall is usually offset by imports from other rice-producing countries. Northern Province, with its vast area suitable for rice production and favorable agro climatic conditions, is capable of being the “Rice Belt” of the country, with potentially good returns for the investor
Some of the Major in investment opportunities in agriculture include;
- Establishment of big commercial farms for production of different crops
- Establishment of Milling Plants
- Establishment of Stock Feed Milling Plants
- Establishment of storage sheds for dry agro products
- Establishment of cold storage warehouses for fresh agro products
- Establishment of agro product Haulage and Transportations
- Coffee Production and Processing, agro-input supply for out grower schemes or micro-financing to small scale coffee producers and marketing