MINISTER of Agriculture Reuben Mtolo, says the government is making strides towards providing access to finance for smallholder farmers across the country.

Mr Mtolo explained that with the introduction of the Sustainable Agriculture Financing Facility (SAFF) in the 2023 to 2024 agriculture season, progress has been made in terms of financial support to farmers for increased production.

The Minister indicated plans to add windows to fund mechanization, livestock acquisition, aquaculture and other crops to the facility that will result in increased numbers of beneficiaries.

Speaking at the 2024 Agriculture Finance Conference in Lusaka, carrying the theme, strengthening agriculture resilience: tailored financial products and insurance services for smallholder farmers to adapt to climate-induced shocks.

Mr Mtolo said that the theme speaks directly to the challenges being faced in the sector, hence the conference focusing discussions on practical solutions to address the problems caused by climate change.

The Minister cited the 2020 finscope survey by the Bank of Zambia which revealed average financial inclusion for farmers in rural areas, despite holding a majority of farmers.

He stated that only 55.5 percent of rural farmers are financially included compared to 84 percent in urban areas.

Mr Mtolo highlighted the consequences to low access to finance by small holder farmers and agribusiness may further impact on sector growth and food and nutrition security.

“Part of the solution is for the government working with cooperating partners to intensively promote financial literacy amongst people in rural areas appropriate for them to demand access to different finance products,” Mr Mtolo said.

Germany Embassy representative, Buumba Siamalube said that Germany recognizes the role of agriculture in Zambia’s economy, particularly in rural areas.

Mr Siamalube stated the need for multiple interventions such as access to water for irrigation, crop diversification, mechanization, access to information and finance will strengthen resilience.

He noted that this can only be achieved by supporting government reforms aimed at developing the facility.

“Today let us share experiences and lessons from everyone that can be used to transform the sector.

World Food Programme Country Director Byenkya Kabusuuga invited various stakeholders to review and develop tailored financial products and insurance services to enhance adaptation to climate induced shocks.

Ms Kabusuuga stated that WFP has complemented the government efforts to adopt innovative mitigation mechanisms risk through the $ 3.3 million USD support, of which some will go towards drought-affected smallholder farmers.

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