—Some 520 Mkushi based farmers have benefited from the 2013 Lima Credit Scheme that is being administered by the Zambia National Farmers Union (ZNFU).
ZNFU’s Central B Regional Manager, Josephat Phiri , confirmed the development to ZANIS, saying the loan scheme involved small scale farmers as well as emergent farmers.
Mr Phiri said the number of beneficiaries for this year had scaled up from the 252 farmers who benefited during the 2011—2012 loan disbursement exercise.
He said that the other stakeholders involved in the scheme were Zanaco as well as agro-input companies such as MRI, Seedco and Pioneer.
Mr Phiri said that coupled with the agro-companies, the loan scheme had also incorporated the Zambia State Insurance Corporation, adding that all the beneficiary farmers had been insured against losses resulting from natural calamities such as drought.
Mr Phiri explained that the rationale involved in this year’s loan scheme aimed at promoting crop diversity by encouraging farmers to grow crops such as soya bean.
He disclosed that about KR1.7 million had been disbursed towards facilitating for the beneficiary farmers’ package of loan and inputs.
He added that for soya growing, the package given to farmers included 100 kg seed per hectare, inoculants equivalent to the seed per hectare, and two bags of basal fertiliser.
Mr Phiri stated that for maize growing, the input package included two basal and two top dressing fertiliser bags and 25 kg of seed.
He mentioned that ZNFU had noted the increase in hectare cultivation amongst farmers who participated in Lima Credit Scheme.
He said for soya bean cultivation, at least 1,500 hectares were expected to be cultivated by the beneficiary farmers.
Mr Phiri further elaborated that for maize 1,800 hectares were expected to be the minimum hectare coverage for cultivation.
He said apart from loans and inputs, the Lima Credit Scheme had a component for skills capacity building.
He said that in this regard, that the ZNFU was facilitating for trainings to farmers in agronomic skills related to growing of soya bean.
Mr Phiri, however, stated that plans were underway to cement greater cooperation between ZNFU and the District Agriculture Coordination Office (DACO), adding that the aim was to incorporate DACO Extension Officers in training farmers.
A total of 520 farmers benefited from ZNFU’s Lima Credit Scheme Loans for 2013, compared to 252 beneficiaries for the 2011—2012 loan exercise period in Mkushi district.