PEPZ to support fruit, vegetable farmers

THE Private Enterprise Programme Zambia (PEPZ) has joined with other organisations to form a tripartite alliance of non-government organisations, private companies and Government to provide support to fruit and vegetable farmers.

PEPZ team leader, Bayo Akindeinde, said PEPZ would provide grants to farmers according to a pre-established criteria and would also provide capacity building and technical expertise to farmers to equip them with the requisite knowledge to grow their produce at maximum efficiency.

“The benefits that will accrue are endless. For example, there will be an increase in the production of fresh fruits and vegetables. It will promote the horticulture industry as a sub sector in agriculture.

‘‘There will be a reduction in poverty among the small holder farmers by improving the horticulture value chain, and obs will be created,” he said.

Members of the consortium, which also includes leading names such as Shoprite, Freshmark, SABMiller, Mfinance and Musika, recently signed the memorandum of understanding in order to improve market access for fresh fruit and vegetable farmers as well as increase smallholder farmers’ household income.

“And in conjunction with our partners, we seek to reduce poverty through increasing horticulture production, thereby creating employment, and this will ultimately increase household incomes and improve the standard of living,” he said.

The signing event, which took place at Cabinet Office in the presence of Secretary to the Cabinet Dr Roland Msiska, brought representatives together to support rural farmers according to the capacities unique to each of the cooperating organisations.

Mr Akindeinde said PEPZ runs a Business Linkages Programme (BLP), that takes account of the findings of its extensive consultations with stakeholders and research to learn lessons from past and present business linkage initiatives in Zambia and internationally and to identify the forces for change and key success factors.