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IFC, AFGRI Corporation Launches Program to Support Zambia’s Farmers


In Johannesburg:
Gregor Pfeifer
Tel: +27 (0) 11 731 3139
E-mail: gpfeifer@ifc.org


Mumbwa, Zambia, December 10, 2010 – IFC, a member of the World Bank group, in partnership with AFGRI Corporation Limited, an agricultural services group incorporated in Zambia, today launched a program to support the growth of Zambia’s agriculture sector by training and financing 450 farmers in the country. The program ultimately aims to benefit about 36,000 Zambian farmers over a three-year period.

The AFGRI Smallholder Mechanization Program will provide 450 farmers with business and management training, and help them develop business plans. The program will also help these farmers lease machinery, including tractors and trailers, with a value of $13.5 million over the next three years.

The 450 farmers will then provide quality farming services – such as land preparation, transportation and planting – to another 80 farmers each, making available advanced mechanized farming methods to farmers across the country.

Chris Venter, CEO of AFGRI, said, “this project is aimed at ensuring that more farmers can actively participate in the agricultural sector by producing crops of quality and in quantities that can bolster the local trading environment and provide export revenue to Zambia.”

Saleem Karimjee, IFC Country Manager for Southern Africa, said “Zambia has abundant land and water resources but only 40 percent of its arable land is currently productive. This program will enable farmers to plant early and expand their production, thereby boosting IFC’s support for agriculture in Africa.”

The AFGRI Smallholder Mechanization Program is also supported by agricultural equipment manufacturer John Deere, USAID Profit and the Conservation Farming Unit, with funding from NORAD.

Princess Simamba, one of the first of four farmers to benefit from the program, said “I am humbled as a lady to be on this program offered by IFC and AFGRI, as women we need all the support we can get, so ladies get out of your seats and do the real job, the dirty job, there is money in farming.”

IFC committed $112 million to agribusiness and forestry in Africa in its financial year 2010 ending June 30, 2010, and is looking to increase this by about two-thirds in its current financial year.

About IFC
IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, is the largest global development institution focused on the private sector in developing countries. We create opportunity for people to escape poverty and improve their lives. We do so by providing financing to help businesses employ more people and supply essential services, by mobilizing capital from others, and by delivering advisory services to ensure sustainable development. In a time of global economic uncertainty, our new investments climbed to a record $18 billion in fiscal 2010. For more information, visit www.ifc.org.

About AFGRI
As a transforming force in the business of agriculture, AFGRI offers a wide range of services, skills and expertise. Focusing on product development and specialized services, AFGRI prides itself on its integrated approach to market needs, with the customer’s profitability a priority. AFGRI is a leading listed South African agricultural services group. AFGRI Corporation Limited has been operating in Zambia for eight years. For more information, visit www.afgri.co.za.