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FARMERS in a maize field.

Invest in horticulture, farmers urged

ZAMBIA Export Growers’ Association (ZEGA) has urged farmers to invest in horticulture due to access to duty-and quota-free markets on both domestic and international regions.  
ZEGA chief executive officer Luke Mbewe also said the sector is lucrative because there is ready market for their produce in the European Union (EU), South Africa, African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) and growing domestic and regional markets.
Mr Mbewe said currently, EU offers duty-and quota-free market access, to developing countries and least developing countries (LDCs) all-year round.
“The existence of skilled or trainable labour, land, water, good climate and production all-year round are also favourable incentives for horticulture production,” he said.
He said this during a presentation at the African Women Entrepreneurship Programme (AWEP) business breakfast on Friday.
Mr Mbewe also encouraged small medium enterprises (SMEs) to access credit facilities from financial institutions which are available for investment.
He cited the Development Bank of Zambia (DBZ) credit facility, which has provided US$50 million for on-lending to SMEs, and also a loan facility of K2 million under the Emergent Farmer Support Programme (EFSP) provided to support mechanisation for 1,000 emergent farmers.
Others include the K20 million set aside under the Agricultural and Industrial Credit Guarantee Fund for SMEs on a 50 percent risk-shared basis with banks, and a K2.8 billion, which is available for the Farmer Input Support Programme (FISP) through electronic (e)- voucher.
“[A total of] K2.8 billion is available for FISP through e-voucher system for maize, cotton, cashew nuts, mixed beans, soya beans, cassava and rice financing under AGOA and European Development Fund (EDF) programmes,” Mr Mbewe said.