Finland Ambassador Tours Bank Supported Agriculture Project in Zambia
The AfDB Zambia Country Office Resident Representative, Freddie Kwesiga, joined by the Ambassador of Finland to Zambia, Mrs. Antila Sinikka and Mr. Abednego Banda, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperative, on Tuesday 26 January 2010, toured two sites of past and on-going Bank funded Irrigation Projects in Mazabuka in southern Zambia.
The tour included the very successful agriculture Kaleya smallholder out grower scheme in the sugar Industry, which was initiated largely with African Development Bank’s funding in 1980. The scheme has 161 smallholder farmers, of which 35 are women, farming on 1,070 hectares of the total 2,150 hectares of land managed by its holding cooperative company, Kaleya Smallholder Company Ltd.
Farmers are organized as a cooperative called Kaleya Smallholder Farmers Association (KASFA). It has an annual production of 200,000mt of sugar which is sold to a private sugar enterprise, the Zambia Sugar Company plc, owned by Illovo. Illovo are a major sugar producing company supplying sugar within the region and to the European Union member countries. It is listed on the Lusaka Stock Exchange.
In 2000, the Bank approved a request from the Government of Zambia for a Units of Accounts (UA) 5.29 million ADF (African Development Fund) loan and UA 0.76 million grant to finance six irrigation schemes under the “Small Scale Irrigation Project (SIP)”, based on the successful Kaleya smallholder Project model. The entourage visited one such scheme being constructed under SIP called, Nega Nega Irrigation Scheme, a typical out-grower model.
The Bank’s support to the Project is scheduled to close in June 2009, but due to limited resources, it could not be fully completed. In this respect, in order to complete Nega Nega Scheme and 3 others, a Euro 10 million has been sourced from the Government of Finland and would be channeled through the Finnish Bilateral Trust Fund hosted by the Bank.
When completed, Nega Nega will irrigate 580 ha of which 550ha will be grown to sugar which Illovo has already provided an assured market. Negotiations are on-going for KASCOL to provide management support during start up activities and if successful, will be a good model for a sustainable Public-Private Partnership.
Agriculture is at the centre of the Zambian government’s effort to diversify from its copper based economy, and to graduating its people, especially the rural based, from poverty to a higher level of income.
The Zambian government, through the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture and cooperatives expressed appreciation of this support going into agriculture infrastructure through the partnership of the Bank and the Finnish Government.