Agri-Pro Focus Zambia in conjunction with SNV Netherlands development organisation held its first ever financial fair in Southern Province aimed at supporting small scale farmers in Zambia.
SNV acting country director Thomas Were said the Zambian agriculture sector comprised mainly of small scale farmers in the rural areas who face an array of obstacles that inhibit their optimum participation in the Zambian economy.
He said farming entailed long cycles of production which required upfront investment in animals, equipment, seeds, fertilisers and other inputs, and therefore farmers had challenges in securing access to credit and were often served by traditional financial institutions.
“Many small farmers manage their businesses informally and frequently do not have records of financial information that banks require for lending. Some financial institutions have tried to expand their usual urban activities to rural clients, but the costs of doing business in rural areas are still high and limit their scope,” Mr Were said.
He said access to farm credit in Zambia was critical and yet it was another under developed aspect of improving farm productivity.
“According to the national representative rural agricultural livelihoods survey, in 2011, only 13 percent of Zambian smallholders had access to credit,” he said. And Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Livestock Luxon Kazabu said dairy farming was one of the most viable agricultural enterprises with the potential of positively improving the livelihoods of the majority of Zambians.
Mr Kazabu said there was need for capital investment in the dairy industry to bring it to its desired level among the small holder farmers, because of its capability of producing a substantial amount of raw milk. He said currently, over 80 percent of raw milk produced in Zambia comes from small holder farmers.