Name: Maria Zileni Zaloumis
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
Her farm employs over 62 jobs and generates a Gross daily income of over $500
She is the last born in a family of 3.
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.
In August 2016, Maria took over the farm 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.
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 , 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.
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 .
▪Maria broke records when she became the youngest to sit on the Zambia national farmers union board (ZNFU), which eventually saw her becoming the youngest Director of the farmers union after she was voted into that position by the farmers .
Apart from being CEO at Tuzini Farms , she also serves as the
▪Young emerging farmers initiative ambassador ,
▪ African pride insurance Ambassador and
▪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 onion
▪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
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”
In the next 5 years,she sees herself
▪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
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, hardwork and faith in GOD. She vividly remembers when she started in August 2016,she commited 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 advice would you give a youth trying to pursue their dreams in Africa despite the conditions around them
“Be realistic about your Dreams. Donot 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
You can buy your seedlings and receive full support of your crop from team Tuzini
Facebook: Tuzini Farms Ltd
Or you can visit Tuzini Farm Ltd at
Plot No. 12530,Chikumbi Road Chisamba, Lusaka.
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