—The United States (US) government’s Feed the Future Initiative program has launched two projects aimed at improving agricultural productivity and increasing the economic resilience of smallholder farmers in chief Mpezeni’s area in Chipata district of Eastern Province
Eastern Province Minister, Malozo Sichone, said that the US government has been a reliable partner for the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock in assisting the government implement interventions and strategies that are aimed at eradicating poverty.
Gracing the occasion in Luangeni Constituency yesterday, Mr Sichone stated the Production, Finance and Improved Technology Plus (PROFIT) and the Commercial Agribusiness for Sustainable Horticulture (CASH) projects for the US President’s initiative would assist reduce poverty through agriculture in Zambia.,
Mr Sichone said the projects were beneficial as they were intended to increase food security and economic growth for the people of Zambia.
The Provincial Minister further said that the Ministry ofAagriculture was working tirelessly with stakeholders in the country to ensure government attained its objective of creating more jobs which would assist in alleviating poverty.
Mr Sichone added that government was aware of the many challenges such as poor infrastructure and road networks in rural area which hinder people from doing business outside their catchment areas for lucrative markets.
And speaking at the same function USAID Acting Mission Director, Ryan Washburn, said the USAID has pledged US $ 4.8 million towards the activities of the CASH program.
Mr Washburn noted that the CASH project has already trained about 2,000 farmers in improved horticultural production techniques adding 280demonstration plots have been established under the PROFIT project which he said were achievements in the first growing season.
He has since commended Paramount Chief Mpezeni for offering a 4-hectare piece of land which has been served as a learning tool for farmers in the area.
Speaking earlier, Agribusiness in Sustainable Natural African Plant Products (ASNAPP) Operations Director, Petrus Langenhoven, said farmers, through the project will be guided and trained to become commercial horticultural producers to ensure year round income generating to manage their agribusinesses efficiently and also reduce food insecurity.
The two projects will be implemented by ASNAPP over a period of four years and provide expertise and skill to facilitate the sourcing of inputs, production, postharvest handling and marketing of horticultural products with small holder farmers in the district.
The program puts private sector partners and smallholder producers together to improve productivity and profitability