The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and Prosper Africa have partnered with Bechtel Zambia to empower farmers’ foundations and address the global food security crisis.
In a statement issued to ZANIS in Lusaka, USAID Acting Public Affairs Officer, Julie Mellin, said the partnership was announced in the United States of America during the just ended US-Africa Leaders’ summit.
Ms Mellin said the partnership will help promote shared prosperity by increasing the supply and quality of maize on the African continent.
She said the partnership among Africa Global Schaffer, Bechtel, and Export Trading Group will initially work in Zambia.
She observed that 80 percent of smallholder farmers in Zambia produce maize.
Ms Mellin further noted that maize however contributes up to 30 percent of the country’s post-harvest losses.
‘’When surplus maize is wasted and damaged maize is sold for less than its value, market dynamics, stability, and job growth are all impacted. This partnership will help to solve these challenges by building green, smart integrated district aggregation centres in areas where improving production will have huge impacts,’’ she said.
Ms Mellin explained that the centres will connect sellers with buyers at key points along East African trade routes to improve the availability of high-quality maize and other agriculture commodities as well as protect farmer incomes that are suffering from the increase in prices related to agricultural inputs.
She added that the centres will also provide logistical support and equipment to protect post-harvest crops as well as transaction support to promote volume sales to boost food security.
‘’The first phase of the partnership will prioritise the construction, start-up, and operationalisation of seven centres in high-production areas in Zambia by May, the harvest season,” she revealed.
Ms Mellin said the programme will then scale up to 23 centres to provide approximately 100,000 metric tons of maize and other crops and potentially avoid more than 800 metric tons of carbon, equivalent to around 80,000 gallons of consumed diesel.