ZAMBIA – The Zambian government has introduced the Sustainable Agriculture Financing Facility credit window; an initiative designed to support and promote sustainable agriculture practices by providing accessible loans to farmers.
Agriculture Minister, Reuben Mtolo, revealed that these loans will be made available through banks at a competitive interest rate of 12 percent.
The minister emphasized that all beneficiaries will be required to enter binding agreements, committing to selling their produce to the Food Reserve Agency (FRA). This commitment serves as a market facilitation strategy, ensuring food security for the nation.
During a ministerial statement presented to the National Assembly, Minister Mtolo clarified that the loans would be provided in the form of farming inputs.
“The Sustainable Agriculture Financing Facility will not distribute cash to farmers. Instead, the focus is on providing the necessary inputs and support to enhance agricultural productivity and food security in the country”, he explained.
This targeted approach aims to benefit those farmers who are not covered under the Farmer Input Support Program (FISP), allowing them to access essential resources for agricultural production.
According to the minister, the launch of this credit window is a significant step in advancing sustainable agriculture in Zambia, offering financial support to farmers and reinforcing the nation’s commitment to food self-sufficiency and economic growth.
This initiative holds the potential to improve the livelihoods of many smallholder farmers across the country.
The initiative follows a recent move when in January, the government under the Market Oriented Rice Development Project (MOReDeP) recruited 3,400 rice farmers in the quest for increased rice production.
According to Mr. Hamwete, Luapula Province Agricultural Officer, the MOReDeP project would enable the province to reach 12, 700 rice farmers before the project comes to an end in 2025 adding that the project will also be supporting the farmers with farming inputs.
He noted that farmers from 30 agricultural camps are already cultivating rice and are doing well adding that there is hope that rice production in the province will increase to about 3.5 tons per hectare by 2025.
Further, the project intends to link farmers with reliable markets, which has been the prevailing challenge.
“We are not only providing inputs to these farmers but also linking them to markets so that they do not have challenges when selling their harvest. The market has been one of the challenges that most farmers in Luapula Province have been facing,” he said.