THE United Kingdom Department For International Development (DFID) through Oxfam International Zambia Programme has spent more than K140,000 on the construction of a multi-purpose storage shed for small scale farmers in South Downs area of Kitwe.
Sustainable Agricultural Programme (SAP) director Jones Chitondo said the shed had been constructed by SAP together with the community with funding from DFID through Oxfam International Zambia.
Mr Chitondo was speaking yesterday at the official opening of the multi-purpose storage shed which shall serve as grain storage, inputs stocking and a marketing hub for community members.
“This shed has been constructed at a cost of K145,000. It has been constructed by SAP together with the community with funding from DFID through Oxfam International Zambia programme, under the project entitled ‘Increasing Women Smallholder Farmers’ Agency and Leadership in Rural Livelihoods’.
“This is a three-year project from 2014 to 2017, not only being implemented in Zambia but also in Tajikistan and Bangladesh using the Gendered Enterprise and Markets (GEM) approach. In Zambia and Copperbelt, the activities are in Kitwe, Ndola, Mufulira and Kalulushi districts, focusing on soya beans and dairy value chains,” Mr Chitondo said.
He said the project was a build-up from past projects and has a 75 percent women small holder farmers’ representation out of the 4,000 target populationbeing mentored through various capacities so that they were empowered economically and acquired sound leadership.
“The project came to compliment Government’s efforts and create a more sustainable model of supporting the vulnerable but viable communities through Government and private sector linkages that facilitate access to reliable inputs and output markets, extension services and financial support.
“Through that, we envision reduced poverty, resilient communities and a developed Copperbelt and Zambia as a whole. This is a multi-purpose storage shed which shall serve the purpose of grain storage, inputs stocking and a marketing hub which shall service all community members,” he said.
Speaking later, Oxfam agriculture manager Robby Mwiinga urged small scale farmers to go flat out into soya beans growing to meet the increasing demand of the crop at local and international market.
Mr Mwiinga urged small scale farmers to venture into soya beans growing because they could make a lot of money from due to its high demand.
“The production of soya eans is very low among small scale farmers. Most of the soya beans in this country comes from Ccommercial farmers. I am urging you the small scale farmers in South Downs to engage in soya beans because it has a big market and can earn you a lot of money,” he said.
And officially opening the shed, Kitwe district commissioner Chanda Kabwe said the construction of the warehouse was motivated by the need to improve storage capacity and facilitate market access by smallholder farmers especially women in the South Downs and surrounding areas.
“With the warehouse in place, it is anticipated that smallholder farmers will be able to use the facility to improve access to inputs and commodity markets through bulk initiatives for mutually beneficial commercial relationships with private sector companies.
“Producer groups will also be able to use the facility to conduct training and as an avenue to generate income for more sustainable women economic empowerment,” said Mr Kabwe whose speech was read on his behalf by Kitwe district agricultural coordinator Raphael Muyaule.