Developing an inclusive horticultural industry for smallholders in Zambia

In a ground breaking initiative that will see the income of approximately 5,000 households in the Eastern and Lusaka Provinces of Zambia increase over the next four years, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Freshpikt, Freshmark, Stellenbosch University and CETZAM Financial Services PLC have joined forces to establish the Commercial Agribusiness for Sustainable Horticulture (CASH) programme.

The CASH programme is made possible by the generous support of the American People through USAID and is being implemented by Agribusiness in Sustainable Natural African Plant Products (ASNAPP).

The US$4.8 million, four-year CASH programme aims to develop an inclusive horticultural industry for smallholder farmers through increased and sustained agriculture productivity in Eastern and Lusaka Provinces. Key components of the programme are improving enterprise capacity and competitiveness; promoting women’s participation in agriculture; improving agriculture production technologies and productivity; reducing post-harvest losses; improving access to short term production finance; adopting climate change mitigation strategies; and promoting market linkages and strengthening of trade.

The CASH programme is increasing the technical capacities of beneficiaries to respond to dynamic market requirements. The program enables farmers to increase their production volumes and profit margins, raising household incomes and expanding demand for quality products in urban and peri-urban markets.

The CASH programme partners have all agreed to share their respective strengths, experiences, technologies, methodologies, and resources (including personnel, in-kind, and monetary) in order to achieve the CASH goals and objectives, while maintaining their own separate and unique missions and mandates. The total value of the in-kind contributions from the private sector partners is valued at US$18 million.

Stellenbosch University is providing post-harvest production technology development and making available their Interactive Telematic Education platform (iTE) in order to teach extension staff and lead farmers.

Freshmark is to procure and distribute high quality vegetables, produced as a result of the CASH program interventions, to a range of Shoprite supermarkets in Zambia. The first deliveries to the market are anticipated in November 2012.

Agro-processing and value addition is central to the CASH programme and attention is given to the production of such crops for local processing.

Finance has always been a barrier to the procurement of appropriate input supplies, production and postharvest technologies. The CASH program has engaged CETZAM Financial Services PLC, an independent microfinance institution to assist with the offering of financial products and services to the farmers. The first loans are anticipated to be disbursed by October 2012.

ASNAPP’s role is to liaise and coordinate with CASH partners to provide expertise and skills, to transfer appropriate technologies and proper production and post-harvest handling techniques, and create access to markets. This includes the establishment of two demonstration sites. These sites showcase cost effective greenhouse production units for year round production of quality products and up to three times increase in yield as compared to conventional farming systems; drip irrigation technologies for the efficient use of water; variety evaluation trials to showcase increased product quality and improved production levels; soil fertility improvement and management demonstrations to demonstrate resilience towards climate change; integrated pest management methodologies to demonstrate crop protection techniques that are more environmentally friendly; and affordable post-harvest technologies such as cold storage or proper grading and sorting techniques among others to enhance shelf life and to also achieve premium prices in the market.

The CASH programme is part of United States Feed the Future Initiative which seeks to reduce poverty and improve food security.

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