Meet Maria Zileni Zaloumis also known as the Zed farmer, a former medical university student from Zambian who turned to a full time commercial farmer and is now estimated at a net worth of about 3 Million dollars from agribusiness.
CEO/Founder: Tuzini Farms Ltd
She has a:
- Bachelor of science degree in Nursing from Australian Catholic University
- Masters of science degree in Cardiology from Wesley hospital in Brisbane
- She plans on pursuing a Degree in Agronomy since she already has the passion
Maria is the last born in a family of 3 who is also a wife and mother.
In 2003, she travelled to Australia to pursue a Bachelor of science degree in Nursing from Australian Catholic University.
While in Australia, she worked for 12 years as a nurse and also earned her self a Masters degree in Cardiology from Wesley hospital in Brisbane.
She started working when she was 18 and raised $30,000 start up capital through savings.
In 2015, she returned to Zambia from Australia to settle. She found her father ill with an incurable disease called Alzheimer’s disease, a disease that affects the brain functions.
He started farming on a small scale but couldn’t continue farming due to the condition hence the daughter took over and started from scratch.
How Maria Started Tuzini Farms Ltd
In August 2016, Maria took over the farm from the father and started with half a hectare of tomatoes and has expanded to over 13 hectares.
From the 13 hectares she harvests between 250 and 400 boxes everyday giving her approximately daily revenue of $500 (Kr5000) at the lowest price of K50 per box.
Her farm Tuzini Farms LTD, is located in chisamba on the northern side of Lusaka the capital of Zambia.
When she started, she used to selling her tomatoes at Soweto market in Lusaka and has grown to become the major supplier of tomatoes to Freshmark (SHOPRITE) country wide.
She also supplies tomatoes to Ndola’s Masala market , Kitwe’s Chisokone market, which is one of the biggest markets in Zambia and also supplies her tomatoes as far as Kasumbalesa boarder post.
Tuzini Farm produces over 300 boxes of tomatoes per day.
Her farm employs over 70 young and old Zambians and generates a Gross daily income of over $500
How She Gives Back To The Community
- On weekends, her workers enjoy the privileges of a literacy program at which many of them are taught how to read and write .
- She also supports kids who are under the care of the Mwachikoka Baptist church in Lusaka.
- She mentors 20 Youths at Kabwata Methodist Church once a month for free
- She employs local youths who are on holidays from school at her farm to keep them busy and have them earn some money as they prepare to open their school
- She also provides farmer trainings and facilitates workshops to empower fellow women
Maria recently was invited to the office of the new president of Zambia and had a one on one discussion with the fountain of honor him self. it is believed that she might get a very heavy support from government and also get a special position to serve the nation in development.
Apart from being CEO at Tuzini Farms , she also serves as the
1. Young emerging farmers initiative ambassador
2. African pride insurance Ambassador and
3. National Chairperson for Fruit and Vegetables under ZNFU.
Projects On Her Farm
- She won a grant for a green house from MRI seed and has now expanded to build more green houses for the onion,cabbage,tomato seedlings.
- She has 4 green houses for onions
- She has a pilot project for MRI seed for cabbage and seedlings
- She recently launched a new variety of tomato seedling called Naetenella from Israel
- She also has beef cows at the farm
- she grows many other seasonal crops As well
Major Challenges She Faces
When asked what are some of the major challenges she has faced as a farmer, Maria said the fluctuation in the price of tomatoes is a major challenge.
“Fluctuation in the price of tomatoes has been a major challenge for me as you can not project the income for the coming months”
Another challenge was the water and seasons issue but she is addressing it with irrigation systems at the farm.
The challenge of labour and land Preperation which she has solved by buying her own tractor.
Where She Sees Herself in 5 Years
- Venture into farm produce value addition by processing tomatoes and sun dried tomatoes which will be exported to the international market.
- Green housing over 50 hectares for growing organic ginger and avocados which will also be exported into the international market
- She sees herself impacting and empowering Zambian farmers by establishing an outgrower scheme countrywide for export,which will boost the Zambian economy
- She sees herself also reducing through levels of unemployment by empowering and creating over 1000 job opportunities
What Has Helped Her Succeed
She struggles with depression and is on medication. She would like to encourage someone whose depressed, to still believe they can achieve their dreams and impact lives despite the condition.
She attributes all the glory and success which have made her the youngest commercial tomato farmer in the country in less than a year of venturing into the sector to Passion, Hard work and Faith in GOD.
She vividly remembers when she started in August 2016,she committed her plans to God and asked God to help her become the youngest commercial farmer in Zambia.
Her focus was not on making money but making a difference in the lives of many through Agriculture.
What She Advises a Youth Struggling In Africa
Be realistic about your Dreams.
Do not be afraid to make mistakes, learn from your mistakes and look forward.
Remember, to be disciplined and use the resources around you.
Never give up on your dream, Never Quit.
Finally, always develop your self by reading the right books, sharpening your skills and above all investing in your relationship with God”
“Do not wait for opportunities, Create the opportunities. Do everything with Passion or not at all. Work hard dream big.
Success depends on the second letter “u”
Success is not in the amount of money you make but in the difference you make in people’s lives
The Zed farmer is making a difference in the Agriculture sector not just in her country Zambia but allover Africa, what are you doing in your country?
Tag someone You believe will turn out Successful millionaire in agribusiness come 2023, you can achieve it if you believe and start.
God bless you all as you get inspired to start farming now.
Contact us at Spark Africa to help you start and run a successful farming business with our robust professional services and e-books.
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