90,000 farmers to benefit from ZNFU agricultural centres

Workers tend to the maize crops on Millers Farm Lusaka, in Zambia, March 17, 2003. An initiative from the International Fund for Agricultural development helps female farmers in Zambia with HIV raise goats. Salim Henry:AP:File

The Zambia National Farmers’ Union (ZNFU) has embarked on the construction of robust and modern agricultural service centres that will benefit over 90, 000 farmers in input and market facilitation in the country.

And ZNFU President, Evelyn Nguleka has encouraged farmers to take farming as a business to become economically empowered and sustainable and not just for livelihood.
Dr Nguleka who is also World Farmers Organisation President said construction of infrastructure development like agricultural service centres is vital in igniting the growth of the agricultural sector in the country.

She said farmers should now take ownership and leadership of agricultural development programmes seriously and demonstrate the real meaning of private sector-led agriculture growth.

The ZNFU president further announced that the union was rolling out visa cards to farmers to help eliminate some challenges involved in accessing agricultural inputs and finances of which 18 district farmers’ associations have been covered so far throughout the country.
Dr. Nguleka who was accompanied by ZNFU Head of Outreach Membership and Gender, Florence Phiri was speaking when she officially opened the newly constructed Mbala District Farmers’ Association office building yesterday.

Meanwhile, ZNFU President has appealed to farmers who obtained loans through the Lima Credit Scheme to start repaying loans to avoid late input distribution.
Dr. Nguleka disclosed that 47 district farmers associations with more than 38, 000 farmers last farming season obtained loans from the scheme at 18 per cent interest rate.

She also assured the farmers that ZNFU will continue to engage government on a number of issues that affect the growth of the sector in the country such as fighting against cheap imports that depress local producers.
Dr. Nguleka further said her union is working closely with government to ensure that the costs of doing business are reduced in order to for the farmers to be competitive against imported products.