ESTHER MSETEKA, Lusaka
THE UK Department for International Development (DFID) through Food Trade East and Southern Africa (Food Trade ESA) has launched a soybean challenge fund that seeks to unlock barriers in soybean value chains in the region.
The Food Trade ESA programme helps private sector and relevant institutions improve storage, inputs and service markets, information, coordination mechanisms, policy and regulation with the aim of getting more people trading in regional staple food markets.
According to a statement availed to the Daily Mail by DFID Zambia office on Tuesday, the programme will provide grants of up to Â£800,000 to help stimulate production and value addition of soybeans in east and southern Africa.
The statement further says the soybean challenge fund is open to applicants in Zambia, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi, Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe.
â€œFood Trade ESA will provide up to 49 percent of the total proposed budget of proposals received with successful applicants entitled to grants ranging between Â£250,000 and Â£800,000 per proposal,â€ it reads.
Commenting on the development, Food Trade ESA programme team leader Marc Van Uytvanck said the private sector companies, in collaboration with their partners, will be expected to provide smallholder farmers with an off-taker market for soybean produce at a fair price, adequate input supply, as well as agriculture extension and support services.
Mr Uytvanck is optimistic that the fund will help enhance the availability of livestock farming inputs, secured livelihoods for small-scale soybean farmers, improved supply of soybean crops, and processed products, among other things.
â€œThe development and improvement of regional soybean value chain systems is the third pillar of our programme which focuses on enhancing and promoting trade in staple foods. By working with the private sector and other development actors, we aim to promote the participation of small-scale farmers in the production and marketing of soybeans.
â€œPartnerships that help address market failures in storage, inputs, service markets, as well as coordination mechanisms, and policy regulation, will help improve the yields and livelihoods of soybean farmers, contribute towards strengthening food security, and this will translate into several benefits to consumers,â€ he said.
Mr Uytvanck said currently, a number of projects engaged in farmer mobilisation, processing, value addition and investments, among others, are eligible for funding.
ESTHER MSETEKA, Lusaka