In current months, the European Union has demonstrated its willingness to advertise and help agricultural companies in Africa, beneath European Fee’s Africa-EU Partnership. The Partnership, which stresses EU-African co-operation, particularly within the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, goals to advertise sustainability and biodiversity and have championed selling public-private relationships throughout the continent, writes African Inexperienced Sources Chairman Zuneid Yousuf.

Although these commitments apply to the whole continent, I wish to give attention to how elevated African-EU co-operation has helped Zambia, my nation. Final month, European Union Ambassador to Zambia Jacek Jankowski announced ENTERPRISE Zambia Problem Fund (EZCF), an EU-backed initiative that can award grants to agribusiness operators in Zambia. The plan is price an total complete of €25.9 million and has already launched its first name for proposals. In a time the place Zambia, my nation, is battling serious economic challenges it is a much-needed alternative for the African agribusiness business. Extra just lately, simply final week, the EU and Zambia agreed to 2 financing agreements that hope to spice up investments within the nation beneath the Financial Authorities Assist Programme and the Zambia Vitality Effectivity Sustainable Transformation Programme.

Europe’s collaboration and dedication to selling African agriculture just isn’t new. Our European companions have lengthy been invested in selling and serving to African agribusiness realise their full potential and empower the sector. In June of this yr, the African and European Unions launched a joint agri-food platform, which goals to hyperlink African and European non-public sectors to advertise sustainable and significant funding.

The platform was launched off the again of the ‘Africa-Europe alliance for sustainable funding and jobs’ which was a part of European Fee President’s Jean Claude Junker’s 2018 state of the Union address, the place he referred to as for a brand new “Africa-Europe alliance” and demonstrated that Africa is on the coronary heart of the Union’s exterior relations.

The Zambian, and arguably the African agricultural atmosphere, is dominated largely by small-to-medium sized farms that want each monetary and institutional help to navigate these challenges. As well as, there’s a lack of connectivity and interconnectedness throughout the sector, stopping farmers to attach with one another and realise their full potential by means of cooperation.

What makes EZCF distinctive amongst European agribusiness initiatives in Africa, nevertheless, is its particular give attention to Zambia and empowering Zambian farmers. Over the previous few years, the Zambian farming business has grappled with droughts, lack of dependable infrastructure and unemployment. In actual fact, throughout 2019, it’s estimated {that a} extreme drought in Zambia led to 2.3 million folks requiring emergency meals help.

Due to this fact, a solely Zambia-focused initiative, backed by the European Union and aligned with selling elevated connectedness and funding in agriculture, not solely reinforces Europe’s robust reference to Zambia, however may even carry some much-needed help and alternative for the sector. This can undoubtedly permit our native farmers to unlock and leverage a variety of economic assets.

Extra importantly, the EZCF just isn’t working alone. Alongside worldwide initiatives, Zambia is already dwelling to a number of spectacular and vital agribusiness corporations which can be working to empower and supply farmers with entry to funding and capital markets.

One in every of these is African Inexperienced Sources (AGR) a world-class agribusiness firm of which I’m proud to be the chairman. At AGR, the main focus is to advertise worth addition at each degree of the farming worth chain, in addition to search for sustainable methods for farmers to maximise their yields. For instance, in March this yr, AGR teamed up with a number of business farmers and multilateral businesses to develop a non-public sector financed irrigation scheme and dam and off grid photo voltaic provide which is able to help over 2,400 horticultural farmers, and increase grain manufacturing and new fruit plantations within the Mkushi farming block in Central Zambia. Over the following few years, our focus can be to proceed selling sustainability and the implementation of comparable initiatives, and we’re prepared to take a position alongside different agribusiness corporations that search to increase, modernise or diversify their operations.

Although it seems that the agricultural sector in Zambia could also be dealing with challenges within the years to return, there are some crucial milestones and causes for optimism and alternative. Elevated cooperation with the European Union and European companions is a crucial approach of capitalizing on alternative and guaranteeing that we’re all doing as a lot as we are able to to assist small and medium sized farmers throughout the nation.

Selling elevated interconnectedness throughout the non-public sector will assist make sure that small farmers, the spine of our nationwide agricultural business, are supported and empowered to collaborate, and share their assets with bigger markets. I consider that each European and native agribusiness corporations are on course by trying into methods of selling agribusiness, and I hope that collectively, we are able to all sustainably promote these objectives on the regional and worldwide stage.

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