Being climate smart and growing food in the most sustainable ways holds the future of farming, says leading agricultural financer Stanbic Bank.
Stanbic, the largest lender in the agricultural sector in Zambia, says sustainable agriculture could be achieved by reducing environmental risks and ecological scarcities, with farmers and other producers aiming to grow more food without degrading the environment.
Stanbic Head of Agribusiness Leon Kotze said integrating climate smart techniques was necessary to buffer against natural shocks, such as droughts and the weakening of seed and animal varieties due to the impact of climate change.
“There’s a greater need to promote the adoption of agricultural environment-friendly practices such as conservation farming, crop rotation, less use of chemical fertiliser and creating public awareness on the adverse effects of climate change,” said Mr Kotze.
He added that since climate change had increased the frequency and intensity of disasters, the bank had put in place strategies and programmes to aid communities to adapt to its effects through climate proofing their livelihoods, production and assets.
Mr Kotze was speaking during this year’s 91st Lusaka Agriculture and Commercial Show whose theme was ‘Promoting a Green Economy’. Stanbic Bank has invested US$200 million in the local agriculture sector with an emphasis on farmers using environmentally sustainable methods that will not affect the environment and future generations negatively.
The Central Statistical Office estimates that the country’s population will reach about 27 million by 2035. In the meantime, land, water and other natural resources remain static, yet producers must ensure there is more food to feed the population. In real terms, farmers in Zambia will need to produce twice as much food as they are producing now to be able to feed the population in the next 20 years.
Mr Kotze added that the bank sought to complement government’s efforts through the Seventh National Development Plan to increase agricultural production and productivity by providing smallholder farmers with financial solutions as well as financing product value chains from farm to agro-processing and manufacturing at the sector and enterprise levels.
“If properly implemented, the increase in production will be achieved through intensified agricultural mechanisation, increasing the area under cultivation and the number of farmers participating in production, driven by enhanced extension service delivery and increased private sector participation, among others,” Mr Kotze said.
Mr Kotze also encouraged famers to properly gauge their time to diversify their agrobusinesses and keep track of their cash flows.
“It is important that farmers also look at their cash flows and gauge the right time to invest in the diversification of their businesses and to ensure that their crops don’t suffer,” he said.
Stanbic Bank offers need-based agricultural loans of varying terms to clients engaged in the farming of staple as well as cash crops, horticulture, plantations, poultry, animal husbandry, dairy, seeds and warehousing.
The bank also finances the supply of a wide range of agricultural inputs such as seeds, fertilisers, pesticides, micro nutrients and irrigation equipment.