BUSINESS REPORTER writes
More than 10 Italian agro companies are putting forward an ambitious programme to boost growth of small-scale and emerging farmers, the backbone of Zambia’s agriculture sector. The programme, a collaboration of the Italian Trade Agency (ITA) and Chitak International, was aimed at integrating the more than 800,000 small-scale and emerging famers into commercial value chains underpinned by higher outputs. Speaking on the eve of 2019 AGRITECH Expo, Chatik managing director, Nkuruma Chama-Kalaluka said it was an opportunity to solidify the partnership with the Italian trade delegation represented at one of Africa’s premier agribusiness platform. “This is a realistic, well-defined and concrete path to unlock Zambia’s huge agriculture potential,” said Chama-Kalaluka. The background to the ambitious programme by the Italian trade delegation was that Zambia had about 800,000 small-scale farmers, farming on average around 1.5 hectares. About half of them were subsistence. In addition, there were small pockets of emerging farmers – those who had graduated from small-scale but were yet to attain commercial farming status dominated by a few players. Although agriculture played an important part in Zambia’s sustainable development, its output was relatively low due to lack of investment in mechanisation arising from inability by the small-scale farmers to access financing. As a result the contribution of the sector to GDP was dismal. Mr Kalaluka said the 14-man Italian delegation to Zambia’s premier agribusiness expo had a pedigree in helping farmers optimise production by improving efficiencies in the entire value chain. He said effective harnessing the huge agriculture potential would elevate Zambia to global food production and processing giant. The Italian companies represented included Federunacoma, Ama Spa, Ferrari Costruzioni, Rovatti Pompe and Roter Italia Forigo. Others are Irtec Spa, Rinieri and Idromeccanica Lucchinit. The majority of them are specialised in advanced farming mechnisation implements, irrigation, animal husbandry and food processing. On Zambia’s business climate, Kalaluka said the fact that Agritech kept enticing exhibitors who included the Italian trade mission was testament of the positive environment. He noted the Seventh National Development Plan (7NDP) puts the agribusiness at the forefront of Zambia’s development trajectory.
The plan had two key priorities, namely improving farmers’ incomes through increased productivity and increasing agricultural output to stimulate upstream and downstream supply chains by promoting productivity-enhancing technology and training.”