CYNTHIA MWALE, Lusaka
VISIONFUND Zambia, a microfinance partner of World Vision, gave out over K3.9 million to support farmers in various agricultural activities last year.
Since inception in 2012, over 5,000 farmers have benefitted from the loan product amounting to over K14 million across eight provinces of the country.
In a press response on Tuesday, VisionFund Zambia chief executive officer Nkosilathi Moyo said over 1,700 farmers benefitted from the loan facility.
â€œVisionFund has given out loans worth K14,159,000 as at August 2016. The provinces we are present in are Northern, Muchinga, North-Western, Copperbelt, Lusaka, Eastern, Central and Southern.â€
â€œThe number of farmers who benefitted last year are 1,763  and 5,000 in 2016. We have not set our 2017 targets yet because our financial year ends this month,â€ Mr Moyo said.
He said with about 80 percent of the rural population dependant on agriculture for their livelihoods, smallholder farmers face a number of challenges which together result in high levels of vulnerability.
â€œAdequate sources of finance play an important role in providing the much-needed timely capital for agri-businesses,â€ he said.
VisionFund Zambia also provides microfinance for entrepreneurs in the form of business loans, asset loans and bicycle loans.
Meanwhile, the micro finance institution (MFI) which serves over 32,000 borrowers across the country scooped the â€˜Best Farmer-friendly Financial Productâ€™ award at the recently held AgriProFocus Financial Fair in Chipata.
AgriProFocus, hosted by SNV Zambia, is an international network that promotes agri-entrepreneurship in low- and middle-income countries, and is currently active in 12 countries, 11 of which are African countries.
In a statement availed to the Daily Mail on Tuesday, the fair aims to provide a networking platform for agri-business professionals to share and learn information on financial products available in the market
VisionFund Zambiaâ€™s agriculture loan product that received the award caters for all sub-sectors of agriculture, namely dairy, livestock, crop, and farming equipment.
Commenting on the achievement, VisionFund Zambia Chipata branch manager Mainga Simasiku said: â€œWe strive to ensure that all our products are tailored to meet the needs of rural farming communities, empowering them to improve their livelihoodsâ€¦We are both humbled and honoured to have our agriculture loan product being given this recognition.â€
CYNTHIA MWALE, Lusaka