The Government has provided US$40,000 as a special grant under the Strengthening Climate Resilience in the Kafue Sub-Basin Project (SCRiKA) to enable MKP Farms to complete the construction of an agro-processing plant.
The SCRiKA Project falls under the National Project Coordinating Unit (NPCU) in the Ministry of National Development Planning.
Minister of National Development Planning Hon. Alexander Chiteme, MP, in a speech read on his behalf by his Permanent Secretary in charge of Development Cooperation, Monitoring and Evaluation Mr. Danies Chisenda at the cheque handover ceremony in Chibombo today, reaffirmed the Government’s commitment to promote the agriculture sector and processing of farm produce.
Mr. Chiteme expressed gratitude that MKP Farms Ltd agro-processing plant will host a cold-room, drying, sorting and packaging bay for value addition as well as a warehouse.
“The Government through the SCRiKA matching grant initially supported MKP Farms with K250,000. However, this initial support was not adequate to fully service the 36,000 community members scattered in the three selected wards of Chibombo district,” Mr. Chiteme said. “MKP Farms Limited is currently linking over 36,000 community farmers to the various local and foreign markets. Of these farmers, over 20,000 are females from 115 community adaptation projects and 54 farm level projects. The markets being accessed by our farmers due to their relationship with MKP Farms include chain stores such as Shoprite and Choppies as well as the Democratic Republic of Congo and Denmark. As a result of their integration into value chains, our farmers have now increased household incomes and food security. They are able to send their children to school without much difficulty.”
The Minister said MKP Farms provides training in climate smart agricultural practices, harvesting, handling and packaging of farm produce according to the specified standards of the chain stores and the international markets.
“This training of our farmers is enhancing their skills as well as building their adaptive capacity to the adverse impacts of climate change. What MKP Farms is doing is a clear demonstration of the community, private sector and Government working together to bring development and improve livelihood of our people,” the Minister said.
Mr. Chiteme explained that the SCRiKA is a US$ 38 million Project jointly financed by the Climate Investment Funds (CIF) and the Government of Zambia.
“SCRiKA’s main objective is to foster sustained economic growth, reduce poverty and enhance food security through strengthening the adaptive capacity of the 200,000 farmers that reside within the Kafue sub-basin,” said Mr. Chiteme. “This is with a view to enable them to better respond to current climate variability and long-term consequences of climate change. Implementation of the project commenced in 2014 and it is expected to close in June 2021.”
SCRiKA Project covers 11 Districts in Choma, Kalomo, Namwala, Monze, Pemba and Mazabuka Districts in Southern Province; Itezhi-Tezhi, Chibombo, Shibuyunji and Mumbwa Districts in Central Province and Kafue District in Lusaka Province.
In Chibombo District, the SCRiKA is supporting 63 sub-projects and spread in Chikobo, Katuba and Chitanda wards. SCRiKA Project provides solar-powered irrigation boreholes to vulnerable communities in the three wards to ensure that farmers engage in agricultural production throughout the year.
And Central Province Permanent Secretary Bernard Chomba said the grant to MKP Farms should help unlock export opportunities.
“This cold room will now increase the shelf lifespan of agriculture products from farmers around MKP Farms and other areas. It is also set to enhance reliable and sustainable supply chain which is key in getting export market,” said Mr. Chomba. “I call upon all of you benefiting from SCRiKA Project to explore export opportunities in order to maximise on profits. I urge MKP Farms to ensure that this project is sustained beyond SCRiKA.”
Local farmer, who are beneficiaries, Priscilla Simwanza, Esteli Kapita and Clive Katala expressed gratitude to the Government for the support, which will encourage many farmers to grow crops and have them processed in readiness for supply to the market.
This is according to a media statement issued by Ministry of National Development Planning spokesperson Chibaula D. Silwamba.