Forest Africa, a company that is adding value to indigenous wild fruits, has thanked the World Bank and the Zambian government for their continued efforts in promoting value addition to locally produced products.
Forest Africa Director, Frazer Handoondo, said the initiative by government and its cooperating partners such as the World Bank to support programmes targeted at the promotion of value addition, has helped in creating alternative livelihoods for many vulnerable people in communities.
Mr Handoondo, who benefited over US$47,000 from the World Bank through the Zambia Agribusiness and Trade Project (ZATP), has however expressed concern with the continued rise in poverty levels in the country despite having abundant natural resources.
“I want to thank ZATP and the World Bank for your support to ensure that issues of value chain promotion are made to be on top of the development agenda. This will surely address the high poverty levels in the country because there is no need for us to be poor amid abundant natural resources,” he said.
Mr Handoondo explained that his company, which started in 2017, embarked on adding value to indigenous wild fruits such as the baobab and other fruits and make a wide range of product such as milk, oil, drinks, wine and brickets after realising the lack of value addition on local fruits.
He noted that through this initiative, more than 120 households have been engaged as fruit collectors to supply the role materials for production thereby generating income for themselves.
He added that this has also helped in creating resilience among rural communities, making them not to only depend on farming as a livelihood but to also engage in other income generating activities.
And the Zambia Agribusiness and Trade Project (ZATP) Manager, Golden Makayi, reaffirmed his organisation’s continued support to contributing to the country’s development agenda.
Mr Makayi said ZATP using its US$40 million funding from the World Bank and an additional US$7 million from private funders, the project has supported more than 180 productive alliances with 98,000 direct beneficiaries in agriculture value chain and cooperatives in five provinces of the country.
He noted that the aim of the project is to create market linkages and firm growth for famers and small and medium enterprises (SMEs) by supporting value addition to locally produced products.
“We are in to the business of increasing market linkages and supporting the growth of the SME sector and our farmers with a bias towards value addition to the various products that we produce and have as a country,” he stated.
Meanwhile, visiting World Bank Executive Director from the Africa Group One Office, Floribert Ngaruko, advised local business people to embrace value addition for sustainable development.
Professor Ngaruko said there will be demand for local products and market creation for many people if they participate in increased value chain promotion.