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Five SMEs in €6.5m windfall

(Times of Zambia)-Five local Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in the agriculture sector have received a combined capital boost of €6.5 million through a financing programme by Zanaco and the European Investment Bank (EIB).

This is from a €30-million agriculture credit facility commissioned in October, 2021.

European Union head of delegation to Zambia and the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) Jacek Jankowski confirmed this during the Zanaco-EIB milestone event in Lusaka yesterday.

Mr Jankowski named the five as Galaunia Farm Limited, Southern Cattle Company, Damust Farms Limited, Waka Waka Estates and Matuka Agri.

“This access to finance will contribute to and trigger sustainable growth and job creation of agribusinesses, which integrate smallholder farmers into agricultural value chains,” Mr Jankowski said.

At the same occasion, Agriculture Minister Mtolo Phiri said the development would help promote agriculture productivity to help grow the sector’s contribution to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

Mr Phiri said currently, the sector’s contribution to the GDP was less than 10 per cent, with farmers utilising only seven million hectares from the 45 million hectares available for farming purposes.

He said the project would help the country develop into the regional bread basket, following requests from countries such as Kenya which have issued a request of one million tonnes of maize from Zambia.

Zanaco chief executive officer Mukwandi Chibesakunda said limited access to finance had been one of the major bottlenecks to Zambian farmers in the quest to build resilient food systems. Ms Chibesakunda said the financing would help the agriculture sector achieve enhanced productivity through utilisation of improved farming methods which were climate resilient.

EIB gender expert Moa Westman expressed optimism that the project would help increase the participation of women in the agriculture sector.

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