The World Bank Group has pledged continued support to Zambia’s enhanced food security by helping Small and Medium scale farmers improve their farming activities.
World Bank Director for International Development Agency Resource Mobilization Samuel Maimbo says as the World faces a global food crisis, small Scale farmers have an important role to play in contributing to food security at national level.
Mr. Maimbo was speaking when the World Bank delegation led by its Managing Director Ashula Kant toured Panuka farms, one of the farms benefiting from its 40 million United states dollars funding for Small and Medium Enterprise (SME).
The project being implemented by the Zambia Agribusiness and Trade Project (ZATP) is aimed at contributing to increased market linkages and growth of agribusiness for small scale farmers.
He said the World Bank is ready to support small and medium size farmers with the provision of access to finance and market linkages to grow their business.
Mr Maimbo noted that with proper utilization of the funding, the bank is committed to providing more support for many small scale farmers across the country to benefit.
He further commended Panuka farms for putting the funding into good use by investing in clean energy infrastructure that will help in combating the negative effects of climate change.
“We are impressed, this is putting the support into good use, and will ensure that many other farmers are supported countrywide so that they can improve their activities and contribute to national food security in the wake of the global food crisis, “he added.
And ZATP Project Coordinator, Golden Makayi disclosed that so far 93 SMEs and 133 producer organisations are benefiting from the financial support through the project.
Mr. Makayi explained that the beneficiaries are supported with funding to buy farm equipment, training and mentorship.
He noted that the project also provides for market linkages for beneficiaries to sell their produce to established local and international markets for their benefit.
Mr. Makayi stated that the project has also helped the beneficiaries to compete favourably on the regional markets by supplying to international chain stores such as Shoprite, adding that it has also contributed to job creation and revenue collection.
“We were given 40 million US$ to contribute to market linkages and strengthen institution and regulatory framework in agribusiness and so far 93 SMEs are receiving support while 133 producer organisations have received mentorship,” he said.
And Panuka Farms Founder, Bruno Mweemba said his farm benefited over 37,000.00US$ from the World through ZATP.
Mr. Mweemba explained that he invested the funding in putting up greenhouse shelters, solar energy and cold room among others.
He noted that the farm that has employed 24 full time workers is currently supplying 95 percent of its horticulture produce to Shoprite.
He said the farm is strictly adhering to climate smart agriculture such as the use of greenhouses for production of different crops, hence has only used less than two of its five hectares of land to mitigate the effects of climate change.
Mr. Mweenba further appealed for more support to put up additional greenhouses adding that the current eight cannot effectively meet his increased production due to improved demand.
“Farming using greenhouses has proved that there is increased productivity compared to using open spaces, and our aim is to use a smaller piece of land so that we do not cut a lot of trees, but the use of greenhouses is expensive as one unit of the green house is fetching at about 7000 US$ hence we appeal for more support,” he added.