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EU launches Enterprise Zambia Challenge Fund

EUROPEAN Union Ambassador to Zambia Jacek Jankowski says Zambia has a potential to not only to get smallholder farmers out of subsistence level, but also to become players that promote and benefit from more sustainable, less carbon-intensive and climate change resilient agri-food systems.

The European Union’s (EU) new agribusiness development project worth EUR 25.9 million has launched its first call for proposals.

According to a statement, through the ‘ENTERPRISE Zambia Challenge Fund (EZCF)’, the EU will award sizeable grants (ranging from 150,000 to one million euros) to eligible entities, notably agribusiness operators to demonstrate that their envisaged investments are not only innovative, but that they will also contribute to the smallholder farmers’ commercialisation and better integration into sustainable value chains development.

It stated that by doing so, the project seeks to benefit around 150,000 smallholder farmers with particular attention to the creation of decent employment opportunities for women and youth.

The project is part of the European Union’s ‘Support to the Sustainable Commercialisation of Zambia’s Smallholder Farmers Programme’.

Ambassador Jankowski said with the €25.9 million grant assistance, the European Union will support the private sector to leverage investments for stronger market integration and to improve cooperation for sustainable value chain development, COVID-19 economic recovery and resilience building.

Gorta – Self Help Africa’s Zambia country director Elia Manda said the project was the biggest programme his NGO has so far implemented in Zambia within 35 years of operations in the country.

“Investing in SMEs and smallholders to transition to greener and more sustainable agri-food systems and tackle the challenges presented by COVID-19 gives us the chance to generate employment opportunities, particularly for women and youth,” he said.

Imani Development Limited’s managing director Andy Simpson said, “we have designed the programme to ensure that financial support incentivises greater smallholder commercialisation and integration into value chains, by requiring lead firms to invest part of the grant up- and/or downstream in their supply chains. Our joint project will support producers, improve infrastructure and services and facilitate the creation and strengthening of smallholder farmers and agribusiness associations.”

Gorta – Self Help Africa’s CEO Ray Jordan said agriculture was the key to ending poverty for millions of rural poor householders in Zambia.

“The private sector has a vital role to play in achieving that objective, and a project like ENTERPRISE Zambia will allow thousands of families to connect with these businesses, and truly unlock the potential of their small farms to the benefit of their families,” he said.

The ESCF is also supported by Zambia’s Ministry of Agriculture, Ministry of Fisheries and Livestock and the National Authorising Office.

The project is implemented by Gorta– Self Help Africa and Imani Development Limited.

The EZCF will increase smallholder farmers’ opportunities in agriculture, including agroforestry and aquaculture value chains in Zambia.

The project was closely aligned with EU’s new ‘Farm to Fork Strategy’, EU’s ‘Biodiversity Strategy 2030’ and EU’s ‘Circular Economy Action Plan’, which are all cornerstones of the ‘European Green Deal’.

According to the statement the EZCF provides direct support to the implementation of Zambia’s Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC), under the Paris Agreement for Climate Change.

It stated that the project also delivers on EU’s commitment and promise for the green recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, by providing significant funding for green investments.

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