In its drive to complement Government’s efforts in promoting sustainable livelihoods, First Quantum Minerals has enhanced its livelihoods development programmes through the introduction of secondary economic activities in its host communities in North-Western Province.
The mining firm through the Kansanshi Foundation has handed over a one-hectare orchard to the Kapijimpanga Royal Establishment, to promote economic development and lasting commercial opportunities, which will result in the continued development and economic growth beyond the life of mine.
“This is a great opportunity that we have, to grow fruit for the local market, for the regional market, and the international market. And we are busy with the feasibility study, which is going to tell us what value addition to give to the fruits. Is it either canned fruit, dried fruit, whole fruit, or frozen fruit? And then depending on the results of that feasibility study, we will build the infrastructure that’s needed to add value to the fruit,” said FQM’s Kansanshi Mines Corporate Social Responsibility Manager, Bruce Lewis.
He said that the orchard has 400 trees of different varieties of mangos, papayas, and avocados among others.
And speaking before he planted the first tree in the orchard, His Royal Highness Chief Kapijimpanga of the Kaonde people of Solwezi District said putting up an orchard is an initiative that is capable of ensuring that there is sustainable income for each and every farmer and every household in the chiefdom.
“We are seeing a first in the diversification of agriculture in our area, being championed by the mine. And so we are receiving this initiative wholeheartedly. We give it a blessing of God, and all our effort to make sure that it succeeds.
This will serve as an example to our people in all the areas so that they learn how to grow fruits, and how to increase household income going forward. Am sure you know that it has been hard, where we have always just depended on maize. So, you sell once, and the rest of the months, you survive by God’s grace,” he said.
The chief said that his chiefdom will work with the Government through the Ministry of Agriculture and First Quantum in ensuring the project is a success.
“You see, where we are, we don’t know much about economics or marketing, but here in this area, we are closer to the borderline with other countries, and there is a big market for our people. So, we will apply ourselves to ensure the success of this programme,” he continued.
The Traditional Leader further said, “Even if we are just talking about fruits today, Kansanshi has interventions that touch almost every area of our lives as villagers here. If you look around, they have interventions at each and every clinic in every chiefdom. If you see our clinic here, they have upgraded it. They have given it staff houses, water, and sanitation.
We will mention conservation farming, we will mention skills development. As of last week, Kansanshi working with us as a chiefdom, has trained over 50 truck drivers, has trained over 40 builders from Solwezi Trades, has trained another 40 children doing electrical and plumbing,” he continued.
Speaking at the same event, Provincial Agriculture Coordinator Muyobo Shimabale said the Ministry of Agriculture is encouraging the growing of fruits because it is an alternative source of income.
“It is a means as well of improving food security. And of course, our farmers can make a lot of money from the fruit which they are producing. The fruits also are a good source of improving immunity in the community. So, it is good that our farmers learn as well to produce fruits, apart from other crops that they are producing. It is of essence that our farmers work together with our stakeholders, as well as our camp extension officers. It is important that they improve on the management of their various fruit trees that they may have on their farmsteads or in the community.
So, a project of this nature, it is very import that we learn from this. We as farmers, as Ministry of Agriculture, let us move together with our stakeholders who have brought in this initiative. Let us see that it succeeds, let us see that it moves forward, and that it basically speaks to the programme of government of diversifying our agricultural produce. We as Ministry of Agriculture support this initiative,” he continued.
FQM has spent over US$100 million on its sustainability and community development programmes by aligning its Kansanshi and Trident foundation programmes to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, a move that puts the mining giant at the forefront of best practices in private sector social investment locally and globally.
First Quantum believes that the true economic growth of a country is reflected in the state of health, education, agriculture, and quality of life that its citizens live, and that if Corporate Social Investment programmes are properly and intelligently marshalled, the sustainability of the communities is a direct spin-off.