CARGILL and the USAID-Zambia Production, Finance, and Improved Technology Plus Program have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to support small-scale farmers and encourage the growth of entrepreneurial, independent agro-dealers in the agricultural sector.
Speaking during the signing ceremony, Cargill’s commercial lead in Zambia, Lezanne van Zyl, said the MoU would help small-scale farmers to have access to crop inputs, extension services and a reliable market for their crops.
Ms. Zyl said the new era of partnership would enable key players from the public and private sectors to work together to develop Zambia’s agricultural value chains and strengthen its food systems.
“The collaboration between Cargill and PROFIT+ will support the growth of entrepreneurial, independent agro-dealers in Zambia and means that small-scale farmers will continue to have access to crop inputs, extension services and a reliable market for their crops.
“We are optimistic that this new era of partnership will enable key players from the public and private sectors to work together to develop Zambia’s agricultural value chains and strengthen its food systems,” Ms. Zyl said.
And USAID PROFIT+ project field team leader Alex Pavlovic said the initiative provided an opportunity for rural agro-dealers engaged in agricultural and inputs trade to grow their business, employ more people and reach more farmers with quality services, inputs and access to market.
Mr. Pavlovic said the shift in strategy will boost local economies and directly impact the yields and profits of smallholder farmers.
Under the proposed agreement, subject to final contractual arrangements, PROFIT+’s network of over 300 independent agro-dealers in Eastern Province will replace the services currently provided to farmers by Cargill, providing access to seeds, fertilizer, extension services and training to farmers.
Cargill would re-focus on its core strengths and capabilities in grain and oilseeds origination, merchandising and trading and will provide market access for small-scale farmers by purchasing soybeans, maize and cotton through the PROFIT+ agro-dealer network.
This would allow both Cargill and PROFIT+ to focus on their core capabilities and lead to a more effective service to farmers.
PROFIT+ is a well-established and proven program helping farmers learn vital production and business skills that in turn allows them to improve their farming techniques and better manage their commercial ventures.
Since 2012 it has been working with farmers in Eastern Province to increase agricultural productivity, improve farmers’ incomes by 30 percent and has reached more than 200,000 small-scale farmers in Zambia.