USAID has committed $44m to agricultural development programmes in Zambia, promising diversification and increased female empowerment in the country’s economic recovery from a debt crisis and Covid-19.
USAID’s focus on agricultural development will be welcomed in a country where population growth outstrips domestic agricultural production, which accounts for only 5.8% of GDP despite providing employment to 70% of Zambians.
it is hoped that an $8.5m export deal with agricultural companies Zdenakie and NewGrowCo will also help to relieve pressure on East African grain importers suffering the consequences of the war in Ukraine.
USAID Administrator Samantha Power announced plans to export 1,300 metric tons of grain to struggling neighbours.
In contrast with the food insecurity plaguing adjacent countries, Zambia’s position is relatively advantageous. A record-high maize harvest in 2021-22 has seen prices remain relatively stable, enabling Zambian growers to direct attention towards regional exports.
Neighbouring Zimbabwe, which imported $13m of maize from Zambia in 2020, may look to its northern border as it seeks to replace the $11.7m of Ukrainian wheat imports which have arrived in previous years.
Meanwhile, Female workers and entrepreneurs stand to gain from USAID’s plans which are the accompanying Business Enabling Project (BEP), which will generate $14m of incentives for private-sector investment in rural SMEs over five years, seeks to unleash the power of Zambia’s greatest untapped resource.