In a meeting held at State House yesterday, the Banker Association of Zambia had the distinct honor of being hosted by President Hakainde Hichilema. The delegation, led by the association’s Chairperson, Ms. Mizinga Melu, engaged in discussions that spanned various topics, with a primary focus on leveraging the ‘Agriculture Credit Window’—a government-initiated facility designed to propel the growth of Zambia’s vital agriculture sector.
Acknowledging the intrinsic value of agriculture as the current and future backbone of Zambia’s economy, President Hichilema emphasized the need to overcome challenges posed by climate change. Despite these challenges, Zambia boasts abundant water bodies and resources, underscoring the sector’s strategic importance.
The discussions delved into the impact of regional demand for maize and the geopolitical tensions, particularly the conflict between Ukraine and Russia, on Zambia’s food security. Recognizing these external factors, the delegation and the government jointly identified the imperative to support farmers in enhancing their yield from 5 to 10 tonnes per hectare.
To tackle these challenges head-on, a proposal was put forth to structure and projectize the Agriculture Credit Window. This approach aims to empower banks to implement systems that identify and prioritize crucial areas such as precision irrigation, water harvesting, and mechanization, thereby ensuring the sustainability of agriculture for farmers.
President Hichilema assured the Banker Association of Zambia that the government has taken concrete steps to formalize the legal trade of commodities with neighboring countries. Transactions will be conducted through established banking systems, providing a secure framework for financial interactions. With robust market mechanisms, including agreements with neighboring nations and the Food Reserve Agency, the President expressed confidence that banks would recover the credit extended to farmers seamlessly.
The discussions underscored the collaborative efforts between the government and financial institutions to fortify Zambia’s agriculture sector. As the nation grapples with global challenges, these strategic initiatives aim to not only secure food production but also bolster the economic resilience of the country.