Value chain financing: evidence from Zambia on smallholder access to finance for mechanization
Smallholder farmers in Zambia comprise 85 per cent of the farmers’ population. Such farmers are regarded as not creditworthy and furthermore their agricultural productivity could be improved. The aim of this paper is to present recent evidence on value chain financing (VCF) as a framework to increase access to agricultural finance for Zambian smallholder farmers. Such financing will act as an enabler to mechanize and, in turn, might improve productivity. Qualitative data collection techniques were followed to provide the results as presented in three illustrative case studies. Each case study highlights the benefits of financing, using the value chain framework, but also emphasizes certain challenges and risks associated with the approach. The Zambian case is not perfect, but provides recent evidence of how various roleplayers in Zambia’s agricultural sector have applied the VCF framework to coordinate the actions of various chain actors, and by doing so allow smallholders access to finance within the local and country-specific context. Although two of the three VCF programmes have been discontinued, they still provide useful learning points: for instance, commercial banks should assign more resources to manage the VCF products; and the risk should be shared between all the VCF participants.
Susanna Levina Middelberg