The Ministry of Commerce, Trade and Industry, through the Zambia Agribusiness and Trade Project (ZATP), has given Chomwetu dairy cooperative of Chongwe district over K1.5 million to improve its dairy business.
The funds, which have been provided by the World Bank, have also been used towards the purchase of 36 dairy animals and equipment for the cooperative.
Chomwetu cooperative currently supplies milk to Parmalat and Lacteris to enhance its supply.
Speaking during the handover ceremony in Chongwe today, ZATP Project Manager, Golden Makayi, said the project, which is receiving support from the World Bank, is aimed at supporting farmers and small and medium enterprises (SMEs).
Mr Makayi the project is also encouraging farmers to add value to agro products produced within their communities.
He explained that government has resolved to support cooperatives as a way of empowering people and improving their livelihoods.
“Government applied for a loan from the World Bank with specific targets of supporting farmers in the country and SMEs to help them grow their activities such as the agro products that they produce. This is all meant to help you farmers see your activities as businesses, that you can improve your way of living and contribute to the country’s economic development,” said Mr Makayi.
He further explained that ZATP is aiming at contributing to increased market linkages and growth of agribusinesses for small scale farmers, hence it will ensure that many farmers are funded through cooperatives to grow their activities and provided with access to read market linkages.
Mr Makayi said that the project is committed to providing more support for many small scale farmers and SMEs to benefit.
And Chomwetu Cooperative Chairperson, Chibesa Chibesakunda, has praised government for revamping the cooperative model as a way of empowering people with better livelihoods.
Mr Chibesakunda said the cooperative has two off-takers of its milk, which are Parmalat and Lacteris.
He has since appealed to government to provide more funding so that the cooperative can buy additional cattle to meet the 600 litres of milk demand which each off-taker is requesting the cooperative to supply.
He added that there is need for government to consider providing electricity to the area to cut down on the cost of running the cooperative which is currently depends on generators for power.
Mr Chibesakunda has since thanked ZATP for the assistance saying the cooperative is happy to be a beneficiary to the project.
“This will indeed go a long way in uplifting our living standards here and we have managed to create jobs for the locals and many more other benefits,” he said.
Government’s good intentions cannot be doubted here but are they enough? There’s need to help with governance of these cooperatives so that best practices are entrenched and retained. Such endeavours aren’t new in Zambia so there’s need to learn lessons from wht led to failure in the past. The Ministry of Agriculture has a lot of letter ed men and women trained at great cost to the public purse and are going to their graves without passing on their know-how to the wider society which paid for the training.
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