A MPIKA businessman has invested about K30,000 in a pine tree plantation.
Bishop William Malaika secured 70 hectares of land where he has so far planted 3,000 fast-growing pine trees.
Bishop Malaika, who bought the pines from the Forestry Department at a cost of K6,000, intends to plant over 70,000 trees.
He said in an interview on Tuesday that he will plant 2,000 more trees next month once the rains increase.
“I planted the first batch five years ago, the third batch three years ago and the final batch was planted last year,” he said.
He said he will continue planting pines until the land he has secured has all been used up.
Bishop Malaika said plantation agriculture is a “gold mine” as each harvested tree will be able to earn him K2,000.
He said the demand for timber in Mpika is high because of the expansion of construction activities.
Bishop Malaika said Mpika customers source their building timber from Ndola, which is expensive because of transportation cost.
“Timber is on demand and that is why I have decided to diversify from real estate,” he said.
The bishop said he is assured of having a ready market for the pine timber.
He called on banks to have manageable interest rates as well as flexible terms of payment to give small- and medium-scale entrepreneurs access to loans for their businesses.