Zambia’s agriculture sector is crucial to the development of the country, and one of the steps that needs to be taken for the sector to grow is for farmers to become stronger entrepreneurs who are able to make better informed choices for their businesses.
The objective of Agri-ProFocus (APF), a network hosted by SNV in Zambia, is to achieve this by ensuring that farmers have access to innovative business development products, services and credit. The will help them maximise their productivity and profit.
Not only is there an increasing demand by farmers for financial services, there is a growing interest in small scale farmers by financial institutions, banks, micro finance institutions and NGOs. These financial providers are increasingly developing financial products for farmers. However, few farmers know of these financial and insurance products.
In line with its mandate of “improving farmer’s access to finance.” Agri-ProFocus Zambia hosted a Financial Fair from 3rd to 4th October in Choma, southern Zambia. Financial providers exhibited at the fair to showcase their products and services to smallholder farmers, and smallholder farmers were able to converse one-on-one with these financial providers about the type of services they would like delivered.
The fair attracted over 500 visitors who came to see 13 exhibitors present their agriculture and financial products and services. Exhibitors were given an opportunity to hold business forums where they were able to discuss issues such as improving financial service provision in agriculture with farmers. They could also attend workshops that addressed skills like business planning. Brian Kapotwe, the SNV Project Manager of the Dairy Business Services Development project in Zambia, conducted a workshop on how to lower the cost of production in the dairy sector and presented the Productive Biogas project which was popular among the farmers. The Financial Education Coordination Unit held a workshop on financial literacy. Other presentations focused on loan and micro-finance opportunities in the country.
“When is the next fair?” was the question posed by numerous farmers who attended the event. APF plans to make the financial fair an annual event that will be held in the farming areas of Zambia to bring these opportunities closer to farmers.
"We believe that private sector led growth is key to sustainable development of the agricultural enterprises. I therefore urge the private sector companies and financial institutions to seriously consider the potential which exists in the agriculture sector and develop appropriate financial products which will meet the needs of the farmers and agro-processors." - The Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Livestock Development, Honourable Luxon Kazabu (M.P) who offficially opened the fair.
"Access to farm credit is critical, yet an underdeveloped, aspect of improving farm productivity. According to the nationally representative Rural Agricultural Livelihoods Survey, in 2011 only 13 percent of Zambian smallholders had access to credit." - Thomas Were, Agriculture Sector Leader , SNV Zambia.