In 2010, WFP partnered with Dunavant Zambia Ltd. to provide smallholder farmers with loans to buy tractors for ripping and ploughing. For one Zambian farmer, the purchase of a tractor has helped open up new business opportunities while benefiting other farmers nearby.
On any given day, you can find small-scale farmer Grimsdale Chiokoma Chonpure (53) harvesting crops in one of his four fields, running a local tractor loan business, selling hand-made pottery, tending his garden, marketing himself at farmers’ association meetings, or devising plans for future business endeavours.
With three children to support and plans for all of them to attend university, complacency is not a part of Grimsdale’s mentality. When he learned of an opportunity to obtain mechanized farming equipment through WFP’s Purchase for Progress (P4P) initiative in 2010, he seized the chance to expand his business and provide a vital service to others in the community.
Aware of the land preparation and transportation challenges faced by small-scale farmers, WFP partnered with Dunavant Zambia Limited to set up a mechanized service revolving fund in Zambia. Through the fund, select lead farmers receive a loan for a tractor for ripping and plowing, which they outsource to other farmers for a small fee.
Simple Solution, Big Impact
Since getting the tractor through P4P, Grimsdale has become the mechanized service provider for farmers in his community.
“Lack of mechanized equipment is a big challenge for farmers,” says Grimsdale. “Relying on animal-drawn equipment creates a lot of problems because many animals get corridor disease and die.”
The huge need for tractors is evident in Grimsdale’s expansive client-base. With the high demand, he’s been able to increase his fee from 210 to 300 kwacha (about US$57) per hectare, and services anywhere from 100 to 300 farmers a year. Farmers are more than willing to pay for such a service, given the time it saves on pre-harvest land preparation. For Grimsdale and his customers, it often means the difference between months and minutes.
“When we used ox-drawn carts to do the ripping, we would have to start preparing the land around May or June and wouldn’t finish until October. Now, we can do it all in one hour,” says Grimsdale.
A Profitable Investment
Grimsdale was one of the first 10 farmers to receive a tractor through the programme. His success in paying back the full loan within a three-year period gives encouragement to other ambitious smallholders who are starting out.
“It’s hard for a lot of farmers to get loans because they don’t have title deeds to the land,” he says.
Providing small-scale farmers with access to loans is profitable to the financial institutions as well as to the farmers who need the mechanized services and resources to boost production. Revolving funds for mechanized equipment are mutually beneficial to both farmers and lenders, while having a positive ripple effect on the livelihoods of entire communities.