BUUMBA CHIMBULU writes
MORE interventions from financial players are required to assist small-holder farmers have access to finance which has remained thorny in their operations, says National Union for Small Scale Farmers Executive Director, Ebony Mbolozi.
Mr Mbolozi said smallholder farmers could only expand their businesses if they had adequate access to finance which was offered at an affordable rate.
He complained that it was rare for stallholder farmer to get positive feedback from financial players once they requested for a loan as they were considered risky.
“Once you have access to finance, it will be very easy for you to procure other factors of production and access to finance has been a thorn issue especially for smallholder farmers.
“As you know it is next to impossible for a small scalefarmer to walk into a commercial bank and then out with a positive result. Mostly they will be considered risky,” Mr Mbolozi said in interview.
Mr Mbolozi said initiatives such as the recently introduced Citizens Entrepreneurs Development Programme (CEDP) were critical to assist smallholder farmers in accessing farmers.
CEDP is a brainchild of the Economics Association of Zambia (EAZ) meant to boost entrepreneurship in the country.
“So once we have such initiatives, it will be much easier for our farmers to access finance.
“It is very important for CEDP to start engaging stakeholders so that the end of the day we are able to leverage our efforts and then promote access to this initiative,” Mr Mbolozi said.
About 1.2 million entrepreneurs are expected to be empowered in the next two years through CEPD initiative.
CEDP, which will officially be launched on the 28th of this month, aims to collaborate with local people in the agriculture, mining and urban business initiatives such as digitised taxi services.
Last week, EAZ National Secretary, Mutisunge Zulu, stressed that there would be transparency during the implementation of the programme to be done by independent assurance monitoring by external auditors.
Mr Zulu said farmers under this programme had a readily market as it would promote value chain.
He explained that farmers would be provided with all the necessary inputs such as seed needed for crop production.