Minister of Agriculture, Mtolo Phiri, has reiterated government’s continued commitment to transform the country’s agriculture potential into becoming the food basket of the region.
Mr Phiri said cited the current export of maize by Zambia to other countries as one of the initiatives that government is implementing to enhance its export markets.
The minister said this in Lusaka today during the signing of the 30 million euros credit facility between Zanaco and the European Investment Bank (EIB) aimed at increasing participation of smallholder farmers in market integrated nutrition value chains.
He said government will support the implementation of different initiatives in the aquaculture sector, as the efforts are crucial towards enabling the country take advantage of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) which targets to increase agriculture exports to other countries.
“So far, we are on course as demonstrated by export of maize to countries as far as Sudan, I wish to inform you that with the initiative that government is implementing, exports of not only maize but other products will increase over the coming years,” he said.
Mr Phiri noted that the agriculture sector is the one of the major drivers of the country’s economy hence government will support the development of critical value chains in the sector.
He further stated that the initiatives such as the 30 million euros facility under ZANACO is key in supporting value chain development which will impact positively on farmers, and will in turn help in expanding agriculture production and export to international markets.
And European Union Head of delegation to Zambia, Jacek Jankowski, explained that EIB has mobilized a loan to be given out as credit facilities to different lending institutions and ZANACO is the first one to benefit.
Mr Jankowski explained that the credit facility will be disbursed through the Zambia Agriculture Value Chain Facility, which is aimed at increasing access to finance in order to contribute to sustainable growth and job creation of the agribusinesses especially among smallholder farmers.
Meanwhile, Zanaco Chief Executive Officer, Mukwandi Chibesakunda said the bank is committed to supporting the growth of the agriculture sector in the country through different initiatives.
Ms. Chibesakunda said the support by EIB to Zanaco has helped in increasing its agriculture investments, therefore creating job opportunities and improving the livelihoods of many farmers across the country.