SEATTLE, Washington — As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to have a disproportionate effect on some of the world’s most vulnerable nations, creative solutions are being created to lessen the pandemic’s economic, health and societal impact. One of these solutions is the recent joint venture of the African Fertilizer and Agribusiness Partnership (AFAP), a U.S. based nonprofit organization, and African Green Resources, a famous Zambian fertilizer company. The $40 million partnership focuses on providing farmers in Zambia, East Africa, with the resources necessary to protect themselves against food insecurity as well as bolster Zambian crop production in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result of this partnership, AFAP and African Green Resources are aiding the fight against COVID-19 in Zambia in a unique way that not only supports farmers’ livelihoods but also provides Zambia with steady produce production.
COVID-19 in Zambia and Its Effects on Farmers
According to the Zambia Statistics Agency, there are 551 active COVID-19 cases and 283 deaths as of August 28. Although COVID-19 cases continues to be a concern, the economic effects of the global pandemic are also heavily impacting the country. Zambia’s finance ministry predicts that revenues are set to fall by nearly 20% short of budget expectations and that the GDP will decrease by 2.6% this year as a result of COVID-19. In response to these economic challenges, the Zambian government has recently passed a $438 million stimulus package directed toward social services and businesses that have been severely affected by the global recession.
The Zambian economic downturn has also had a severe impact on rural farmers. The lockdown in Zambia has limited the amount of money urban residents can send back to their families living in rural areas that, at this moment of crisis, heavily rely on their monetary assistance. Additionally, many transportation systems have entirely shut down, making it impossible for small-scale farmers to distribute their products to urban markets and to acquire adequate supplies to have a successful harvest. Even when farmers can get their produce to local markets, they are forced to sell at lower prices due to the small number of customers shopping amid the lockdown. The compilation of these negative impacts has led many farmers to abandon their harvests altogether, which not only slashes their profits but also puts them in danger of being food insecure.
AFAP Partnership with Zambian Farmers
The new partnership between the AFAP and African Green Resources brings relief and hope to these struggling small-scale farmers. The $40 million investment will be used to secure credit-lines for farmers to purchase supplies as well as effective fertilizer training. Moreover, the AFAP has committed to not just being a catalyst on the financial side but also an advisement resource for farmers and companies on more big picture business strategies. The AFAP is fighting COVID-19 in Zambia with proactive measures that aim to tackle the national issues rising due to the pandemic.
The joint venture will reach 250,000 subsistence farmers, aiming to bolster maize production. The program is projected to feed 10 million people across Zambia and Southern Africa, providing food security to Zambia’s most impoverished populations. Supporting small and medium-sized maize farmers is especially crucial in Zambia as 93% of the country’s yield is provided by these family farms. The maize industry in Zambia in the 2019 to 2020 marketing season increased by 69% and is expected to increase by 5% next year, underscoring the importance of supporting this industry.
The ultimate goal of AFAP is to connect all of its African partners with the broader global agriculture market, allowing rural farmers the opportunity to maximize their profits on a world stage. The social enterprise looks to improve the livelihoods of farmers while also supporting the local and national economies.
The main objectives of their strategy are “food security, income, job creation and agriculture contribution to national GDPs,” underlining the organization’s transformative goals. Now, with the global pandemic, AFAP is expanding its mission to fighting COVID-19 in Zambia and joining the global COVID-19 response and relief efforts.
Although the global repercussions of the COVID-19 pandemic have not been fully understood yet, proactive partnerships like AFAP’s work in Zambia provide hope that the world’s vulnerable populations will be supported through the recovery process. The manner AFAP is fighting COVID-19 in Zambian is a laudable example of how the global response to the pandemic must focus on aiding vulnerable populations while contributing to national growth and security.