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Modern irrigation systems can unlock agri potential – BAZ

THE Bankers Association of Zambia (BAZ) says investment into modern irrigation systems will boost the productivity of small-scale farmers in Zambia.
BAZ chairman Mr Charles Mudiwa said commercial entities must be engaged to develop financial products that will support the diversification and expansion of Zambia’s agricultural sector.
“Zambia has about 75 million hectares of land with only about six million used in cultivation. In terms of irrigation potential, the country has 2.7 million hectares of land that can be irrigated but only 200,000 hectares is under cultivation,” he said.
Mr Mudiwa said this when he appeared before the parliamentary committee on agriculture on Monday.
He said there is need to provide improved irrigation systems since the informal small-scale irrigation scheme developed by smallholders in the past did not work efficiently.
“To support irrigation systems, the banks are engaging in financing of dam building, bush clearing, water pipe systems and channels through term facilities of up to seven years.
“Commercial banks provide working capital to support production under irrigation systems and share the view that improved irrigation will help in the production risk mitigation, increased productivity and diversification and growth of the Zambian agriculture sector,” he said.
He also said expanding the irrigated market crop in Zambia will create additional opportunities for private sector investment.
Mr Mudiwa also commended the Zambia National Farmers Union (ZNFU) for playing an important role in providing information to farmers and negotiating favourable terms for the supply of agriculture equipment.
He said the agricultural sector is broad-based and has the potential to make meaningful contribution to the country’s economic growth and development.