Cargill and the USAID Zambia Production, Finance, and Improved Technology Plus (PROFIT+) Program have signed a Memorandum of Understanding to support small-scale farmers and to encourage the growth of entrepreneurial, independent agro-dealers in the Zambia’s agricultural sector.
Under the proposed agreement, subject to final contractual arrangements, PROFIT+’s network of over 300 independent agro-dealers in Eastern Province will replace the services currently provided to farmers by Cargill, providing access to seeds, fertilizer, extension services and training to farmers. Cargill will re-focus on its core strengths and capabilities in grain and oilseeds origination, merchandizing and trading and will provide market access for small-scale farmers by purchasing soybeans, maize and cotton through the PROFIT+ agro-dealer network. This will allow both Cargill and PROFIT+ to focus on their core capabilities and lead to a more effective service to farmers.
Cargill’s commercial lead in Zambia, Lezanne van Zyl, said: “The collaboration between Cargill and PROFIT+ will support the growth of entrepreneurial, independent agro-dealers in Zambia and means that small-scale farmers will continue to have access to crop inputs, extension services and a reliable market for their crops. We are optimistic that this new era of partnership will enable key players from the public and private sectors to work together to develop Zambia’s agricultural value chains and strengthen its food systems.”
PROFIT+ is a well-established and proven program, which is helping farmers learn vital production and business skills that in turn allows them to improve their farming techniques and better manage their commercial ventures. Since 2012 it has been working with farmers in Eastern Province to increase agricultural productivity, improve famers’ incomes by 30 percent and has reached more than 200,000 small-scale farmers in Zambia.
Alex Pavlovic the field team leader of the USAID funded PROFIT+ project implemented by ACDI/VOCA commented: “Building on Cargill’s efforts presents an excellent opportunity for rural agro-dealers engaged in agricultural and inputs trade to grow their business, employ more people and reach more farmers with quality services, inputs and access to market. This shift in strategy should boost local economies and directly impact the yields and profits of smallholder farmers.”
These changes will unfortunately impact around 200 employees and Cargill will follow the required Zambian processes, ensuring that each employee is treated with dignity and respect.
Cargill is committed to serving its customers and to supporting the development of Zambia’s farming and agricultural sector. It will continue to purchase crops from commercial farmers and operate its soybean processing and vegetable oil bottling business in Lusaka, which sources soybeans from both commercial and small-scale farmers in Zambia.