SMALL-SCALE farmers have commended the Private Enterprise Programme Zambia (PEPZ) under its business linkages programme for encouraging the growth of local business in the country.

Small-scale horticulturist in Chongwe district, Lunia Banda,  said it was encouraging to see foreign-owned supermarkets buying local farm products instead of  importing them from other countries.

Ms Banda said reports that Java Foods, a local supply chain, has sold about 1.6 million packets of its EeZee noodles to Shoprite was evidence enough that local produce were of high quality.

She said PEPZ was playing a pivotal role of building a strong local supply chain through the linkage of Small Medium Enterprises (SMEs) and big businesses.

Ms Banda said local products could feed the country provided they received support from relevant stakeholders.

“When locals are empowered and motivated, then it will translate into an increase of productivity that will help the country to grow its economy.

“As small scale farmers, we want to commend PEPZ for its business initiative linkages aimed at growing businesses in support of the local products,” she said.

She said it was progressive to see chain stores supporting local farmers which would encourage them to grow more.

Ms Banda said local entities had been affected by lack of markets, saying they were capable of producing local products if they were supported, and also given an opportunity to be marketed as well.

She said the inclusion of Zambian produce and local products in most of the supermarkets had encouraged more people to engage in farming, which was key to the country’s economic growth.

“There will be no reason at this time to have Zambian grown vegetables and other produce not given space in supermarket chains; and helping local business and generating local employment is the best way to develop the nation,” he said.

PEPZ’s business linkages programme seeks to create and strengthen sustainable business partnerships between small-scale Zambian businesses and corporations that see the value in procuring goods and services locally.

And last week, PEPZ under its business linkages initiative supported Java Foods that sold 1.6 million packets of its EeZee noodles to Shoprite in a success story that highlights the importance of building a strong local supply chain between SMEs and big business.

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