UCF Targets Eco Compliance and economic Growth

… Mwamba states that UCF is balancing environmental responsibility with business expansion.

By Francis Maingaila

Lusaka, Zambia24 (10-06-2024) – United Capital Fertiliser (UCF) in Zambia prioritizes environmental compliance through reduced coal usage, ensuring a clean environment while maintaining safe coal extraction practices.

UCF Chairperson Chance Kabaghe addressed delegates at the AFRIQOM Fertilizers Club conference during their visit to the plant that having completed an additional fertilizer plant that brings the company’s total annual production capacity is about 800,000 metric tons.

“The initial plant had a capacity of 300,000 metric tons,” Kabaghe stated. “The new plant adds 500,000 metric tons, significantly enhancing our ability to meet both domestic and international demands.”

Kabaghe also highlighted the ongoing construction of a urea production facility, which is expected to start operations by October next year.

“We aim to produce around 300,000 metric tons in the first phase, eventually matching our combined fertilizer capacity of 800,000 metric tons in the second phase.”

He said UCF is currently self-sufficient in D comp production and has started exporting to neighboring countries, including Tanzania, Zimbabwe, and Botswana.

Kabaghe noted, “Last year, our distribution efforts in these regions were notable. This year, we plan to expand our exports significantly, including to the DRC, with both individual entrepreneurs and government orders.”

“The completion of the urea plant will also lead to substantial job creation. By October next year, we will employ an additional 2,000 workers, bringing our total workforce to between 3,500 and 3,600 employees,” said Kabaghe.

“This will benefit many families in the country, considering an average family size of four to six members.”

He said UCF’s facilities are designed to produce fertilizers tailored to specific soil requirements, with soil testing conducted to inform these needs. Kabaghe emphasized,

“This approach supports small-scale, medium, and commercial farmers in achieving higher productivity by providing them with the right type of fertilizer.”

He said the financial commitment to these expansions is significant with tbe investmemt of around $400 million in the two decomp plants.

“The urea plant’s investment is projected at $600 million, bringing the total investment to approximately $1 billion,”

Kabaghe stated. “This is substantial both in terms of monetary value and employment creation.”

He said UCF is also proud to host the Africa Fertilizer Conference, attracting delegates from around the world, including Saudi Arabia, Ukraine, Russia, Europe, the UAE, and across Africa. “This international conference highlights Zambia’s role in the fertilizer industry,” Kabaghe noted.

Kabaghe assured that Zambia’s needs are prioritized before exporting, including supplying fertilizer for the Farmer Input Support Program. “By December, we expect to produce 300,000 metric tons of urea, with full production capacity realized by next October.”

“United Capital Fertilizers aims to be a major player in the agricultural sector, ensuring a steady supply of high-quality, affordable fertilizers,” Kabaghe concluded. “Our initiatives will significantly contribute to the country’s foreign exchange earnings and overall economic growth.”

The company’s production advancements, substantial investments, job creation efforts, environmental protection initiatives, and hosting of international conferences underscore its commitment to leading the fertilizer industry and supporting agricultural productivity in Zambia and beyond.

And speaking earlier, Roy Mwamba, the Deputy Group Chief Executive Officer at Wonderful Group said in terms of environmental protection, UCF is taking strict measures to reduce emissions.

“Our new plant is cleaner, emitting fewer gases. We aim to implement zero-emission technology, adhering to the Equator Principles and exceeding World Bank standards for environmental protection,” Mwamba said.

Mwamba detailed the strategic use of land for urea and ammonia nitrate production, with current emphasis on urea production.

All resources from this process are directed towards power generation, ensuring sustainability with zero emissions.

Mwamba emphasized UCF’s adherence to global best practices and surpassing World Bank emission standards.

Extensive planning, including engagements with Court Nexant ECA in the UK, ensures thorough environmental and chemical assessments.

Mwamba updated on progress, including the erection of towers and concrete laying for equipment installation. External sourcing of equipment ensures quality and operational excellence.

Mwamba revealed an increased investment of $600 million, dedicated to meeting stringent environmental standards and achieving zero emissions.

The foundation stone was laid by the Vice President of Zambia in November 2021, with plans to achieve 800,000 metric tons of production by September 2022, targeting markets in South Africa and Congo at an entry price of $20.

Rabson Banda, a seasoned Laboratory Technician and Quality Control Manager, stands at the forefront of ensuring optimal quality and compliance in agricultural fertilizer production. Employing a range of techniques and methods,

Banda underscores the critical role of precision in sample handling, personnel training, in-house testing, and regulatory compliance to meet market demands and assure customer satisfaction.

Banda’s approach revolves around specific techniques tailored for percussion and standard procedures, alongside the utilization of the “look complex” method, particularly useful in analyzing phosphates for their colonial nature.

Sample handling, a crucial aspect in fertilizer production, sees Banda’s adeptness in processing samples weighing over 2.5 kg and handling diverse matrices to uphold production quality.

A key aspect of Banda’s strategy is personnel recruitment and training, emphasizing the need for skilled individuals to manage processes effectively.

Additionally, Banda stresses the significance of correct fertilizer purchase and application for optimal results, ensuring adherence to regulatory standards and customer assurance.

In-house testing and quality control procedures entail thorough examination of raw materials and heavy elements to meet stringent regulatory requirements, including permissible levels of heavy metals such as cadmium in African markets.

Weekly sample verification with ZARI attests to Banda’s commitment to compliance, with positive feedback affirming adherence to specifications.

Banda said efforts have not only impacted local markets by satisfying demand without the need for imports but have also provided essential products within the country, benefiting local farmers.

“Moreover, his unwavering dedication to maintaining high-quality standards through regular checks and compliance with regulatory standards assures customers of products free from significant contaminants,” he explained.

Sheila Keino, the Vice President of Development Corporation at AFAP in Kenya highlighted the fascination with advanced technologies observed at the plants.

She said details are provided about the annual production capacities of the urea plant and the NPK plant, with expansions indicating a significant increase in capacity.

“The expansion of the plants also means increased job opportunities, contributing significantly to job creation in the country.

She shared insights into the remarkable growth trajectory of UCF (Universal Chemicals and Fertilizer) of Zambia.

Keino underscored UCF of Zambia’s commitment to tailoring its capabilities to address the specific needs of its clientele.

This emphasis on customization reflects a proactive approach to meeting market demands and ensuring customer satisfaction.

UCF of Zambia has demonstrated impressive production capabilities, boasting a capacity to produce 800 metric tons of granulated fertilizer.

This substantial figure speaks to the company’s robust infrastructure and its ability to meet the agricultural needs of Zambia and beyond.

Moreover, plans are in motion to further augment production, signaling UCF’s ambitious growth agenda.

A notable aspect of UCF of Zambia’s operations is its emphasis on sourcing raw materials locally.

Keino highlighted UCF of Zambia’s exploration of blending and granulation processes for international markets.

“This strategic move signifies the company’s ambitions for global expansion and its readiness to compete on the international stage,” she said.

“By leveraging its expertise and infrastructure, UCF of Zambia aims to establish a strong presence beyond national borders, contributing to the growth of the global agricultural industry.”

Keino’s insights shed light on UCF of Zambia’s growth strategy and its commitment to excellence in the fertilizer sector.

Chance Kabaghe, the UCF board chairperson,

The company emphasizes its commitment to minimizing environmental impact, with a focus on reducing emissions and ensuring cleaner operations.

The hosting of the Africa Fertilizer Conference underscores the company’s role as a significant player in the fertilizer industry. It facilitates discussions on future strategies and investments.

The company aims to make fertilizers more accessible and affordable, with a goal of further reducing prices through increased production and efficiency.

Ensuring food security is a priority, with plans to meet domestic demand and contribute to agricultural sustainability in the region.

The company has been awarded contracts to supply fertilizers for various government programs, reinforcing its role in Zambia’s agricultural development.

Dedicated to meeting demand, the company operates round-the-clock to ensure a steady supply of fertilizers.

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