By BUUMBA CHIMBULU
A €30 million agricultural facility to support smallholder farmers and rural cooperatives across the Zambia has been launched by Zanaco bank and Team Europe.
The initiative will assist improve agricultural investment, productivity, upgrade, and processing as well as support towards a sector severely impacted by Covid-19 challenges.
The financing scheme will be managed by Zanaco and backed by the European Union and European Investment Bank (EIB), as part of the broader Team Europe support for sustainable commercialisation of Zambian smallholder farmers.
The investment marked another milestone for Zanaco as the first bank to partner with Team Europe to deliver the dedicated support to the agriculture, says Zanaco Board Chairman, Hastings Mtine.
Mr Mtine said the partnership would allow the bank to extend €15 million to support the growth of the agriculture sector in Zambia.
Through this partnership, he explained, the bank and customers would benefit from skills training and technical assistance.
He said Zanaco was committed to building on the track-record of supporting agriculture across Zambia by improving access to finance, sharing best practice and innovation to unlock investment across the sector.
He said this at the Zanaco and EIB agriculture value chain facility signing ceremony this week in Lusaka.
“Zanaco is pleased to join forces with the European Investment Bank to roll out Team Europe’s first dedicated support for agriculture in our country. This new partnership will unlock agricultural investment, create employment and unlock economic growth in Zambia in the years ahead,” Mr Mtine said. And Agriculture acting Permanent Secretary, Cecilia Kamanga, highlighted the importance of unlocking agricultural investment for Zambia by improving access to long term financing.
“We urge farmers to fully take advantage of this facility for the country’s agriculture sector to contribute meaningfully to Zambia’s economic development,” she said.
European Commissioner for International Partnerships, Jutta Urpilainen, said €15 million credit line signed on Monday would allow smallholder farmers and agricultural businesses to adapt to climate change.
Ms Urpilainen said the facility would create jobs, make farmers more resilient, and have an impact on thousands of lives
Meanwhile, EIB vice president, Thomas Östros, said Agriculture was crucial for economic activity and social development in rural communities across Zambia.
“This new €30 million scheme will accelerate investment by smallholders and agriculture companies through increased access to finance.
Head of the European Union Delegation to Zambia Jacek Jankovski said the European Union strongly supports Zambia’s green recovery, inclusive and sustainable growth agenda.