THE Ministry of National Development Planning has offered US $40,000 as special grant to MKP Farms of Chibombo district in Central Province under the Strengthening Climate Resilience in the Kafue Sub Basin (SCRiKA) Project.
The money is aimed at helping the agro company to complete the construction of a cold storage in order to expand its vegetable out-grower scheme for small-scale farmers.
National Development Planning Permanent Secretary Danies Chisenda presented the cheque to MKP Farms proprietor Michael Phiri on behalf of his minister Alexander Chiteme in Chibombo on Thursday.
Mr Chiteme said in a speech read for him by Mr Chisenda that the government envisaged that the grant would enable MKP Farms to expand outgrower services to neigbhouring districts such as Chisamba, Shibuyunji and Mumbwa.
SCRIKA is a government project aimed at strengthening the adaptive capacity of rural communities to better respond to current climate variability and long-term consequences of climate change.
Chibombo has more than 60 sub-projects where SCRiKA has provide solar-powered boreholes as well as fish ponds and other facilities to boost the production levels among the people.
The US $40,000 is apparently in addition to K250,000 MKP Farms received last year as top up to the company’s own capital at the beginning of the construction of the cold room.
MKP Farms works as an aggregator by collecting, packaging and storing farmers’ produce in the cold-room before delivering it to established local and international markets.
“I wish to state that government supports the activities being undertaken by MKP Farms because they are in tandem with our ambition of reducing poverty and vulnerability as well as reducing developmental inequalities as outlined in the Seventh National Development Plan.
“What MKP Farms is doing is a clear demonstration of the community, private sector and government working together to bring development and improve livelihood of our people,” Mr Chiteme said.
Earlier, Central Province Permanent Secretary Bernard Chomba called on MKP Farms to take advantage of the abundant export market particularly in Dubai to ensure that it exported the farm produce on behalf of the farmers.
He said he was particularly disappointed that farm produce in Central Province was going to waste when there was plenty market for export in the United Arab Emirates.
In receiving the grant, MKP Farms proprietor Mr Phiri commended the government for the support and assured that the company would expand its services of creating market linkages and climate resilient skills among the vulnerable farmers.
In a vote of thanks, Chikoba Ward farmers’ representative Ernest Kanshinka said the completion of the cold room by MKP Farms would help farmers that have been struggling to find market for their produce.