By MAIMBOLWA MULIKELELA –
The Zambia National Farmers Union (ZNFU) has signed a bilateral agreement with the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA) worth K38 million to support innovations and technologies in the agriculture sector.
This agreement will in addition, support ZNFU’s core programme for the period 2014-2017.
The total budget for the 2014-2017 core support programme amounts to K148,451,019.97 (about US$27.5 million) out of which, ZNFU and SIDA will contribute K38 million each while, a non-governmental organisation, We-Effect will put in K7.4 million.
The bulk of the remaining difference is expected to be contributed by other cooperating partners such as the government of Finland, together with a few other short term externally funded projects.
Speaking at the signing of the agreement, ZNFU executive director Ndambo Ndambo said the funds would enable ZNFU continue with its programme and implement interventions and activities that would improve smallholder farmers.
“This will improve small-scale farmer’s access to fairly priced and efficiently delivered credit and finance for productivity enhancing inputs, technologies and productive assets,” he said.
Mr Ndambo said it would promote appropriate and affordable innovations and technologies in agriculture sector to increase efficiencies in agricultural production among small scale farmers.
The Core Support Programme will target over 100,000 small and medium-scale farmers, a number of inputs suppliers, financial institutions, other agribusiness companies and key industry stakeholders.
The Core Support Programme is expected to contribute to the realisation of a sustainable and competitive Zambian agricultural sector that will improve food security,on farm incomes and the much needed employment creation in Zambia.
Speaking at the same function, Swedish ambassador to Zambia Lena Nordstrom said the agreement signifies their commitment to supporting ZNFU’s strategy plan for the next four years.
Ms Nordstrom said the contribution would support the development of the small-scale farmers.
“ZNFU is an important institution and the support will help strengthen and provide better services to smallholder farmers across the country,” she said.