Agricultural investment firm Pyxus Agriculture Limited says it has invested $8.2 million (about K6.7 billion) in forestry business, eyeing diversified production of timber and timber products to reap benefits from both the local and export markets in the past seven years.
The firm’s managing director Ronald Ngwira disclosed this in an interview on Monday on the sidelines of Minister of Natural Resources Nancy Tembo’s tour of their Chikangawa concession tree forest and Mpale Forest Reserve at Madisi.
He said: “Having over 6 000 hectares of forestry investments on the ground, we have excess wood that’s why we applied for a sustainable charcoal licence and we are looking at going into other value added timber projects and products.
“We are planting trees in 15 different sites across the country including Chikangawa forest and spending $1.3 million annually in tree growing by planting between 800 and 1 000 hectares a year.”
Out of the 15 sites 11 are Pyxus farms and four are government concessions such as Ngala, Dzalanyama, Kaombe and Chikangawa forests, while the rest are farms in Mbalachanda in Mzimba, Mchinji, Kasungu and Dowa.
The minister hailed the firm’s investments saying it is more of a model investment which needs to be supported for the benefit of the economy through the selling of the products and employment of hundreds of citizens. The company’s 6 000 hectares of forest under active scientific management over the past seven years consists of 3 769 hectares on government concession land, representing 64 percent.