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SMALLHOLDER farmers in Senanga district in Western province will now be able to access more loans from their savings groups at reduced interest rates. The farmers will also receive support-in-kind from other Non-Governmental Organisations, small loans from the government and other cooperating partners. This will enable them to purchase farming inputs, and venture into other agriculture enterprises like aquaculture, bee-keeping, horticulture and many others, to attain food security at household level.
This follows the introduction of Savings for Change groups facilitated by the World Food Programme (WFP). Since 2020, about 30 groups have been formed and trained on how to manage their groups through formulating By-laws and savings, among others. To facilitate monitoring of training materials for staff, the ministry has already received resources.
Senanga District Senior Agricultural Officer, Hang’ombe Chipobe, was impressed that the groups are not only engaged in savings, but practicing other agricultural activities like conservation agriculture and post-harvest loss management that may help fight hunger.
Mr Chipobe disclosed when a team from the Ministry of Agriculture, World Food Programme and Ministry of Community Development and Social Services visited Ngundi Agricultural camp to see how the formation of Savings for Change groups are operating in the area.
He noted that it is imperative the money borrowed is used prudently in order to boost their financial muscle, thereby increasing agriculture production and productivity.
Speaking at the same meeting, Ngundi Camp Extension Officer, Misheck Kaputa, said two groups have so far been formed from December last year, and the camp intends to roll-out the programme because of its feasible benefits among beneficiary farmers.
Mr Kaputa added that the camp’s target is to have 25 Savings for Change groups by next year. He further said farmers in the camp have also been trained in conservation agriculture as well as post-harvest loss management technologies.
Meanwhile, a small-scale farmer, Mwangala Mutemwa, disclosed that her group which was formed in January this year after the training, and has so far saved about K45, 152.
Mrs Mutemwa, is also the Treasurer of Ngundi Savings for Change Group, said the group has a membership of 22, while the other group was formed in february, namely; Bupilo Ki Masunda, whose membership is 25, and they saved K21, 694. It is encouraging that all the members have borrowed, and share out at 20% interest.
Mrs Mutemwa said that once shared, everyone decides how to spend their accrued funds. She disclosed that the next share out will be in December and her plan is to buy a water pump and some chemicals to increase the vegetable production in her gardens. She also plans to venture in beef business since the area has a challenge of availability of relish. This approach is expected to transform the lives of farmers in the area and also have a spill-over effect to other farming communities in the district. -NAIS

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