22 co-operative farmers in the Royal Chiefdoms of Nkana and Lumpuma have received subsidised treadle (foot-powered) pump loans with the help of Kagem Mining Limited.
Kagem mine has partnered with the international anti-poverty organisation KickStart and the Ministry of Agriculture to assist the small-scale farmers – more than half of whom are women – with irrigation. The farming co-operatives grow various types of vegetables, and Kagem mine has committed to buy the produce for use in its canteens.
Kagem’s Sustainability department develops and implements its community development strategy directly in line with Gemfields sustainability strategy, to support health, education and agricultural projects in the two chiefdoms.
Agriculture is one of the major economic drivers that can bring about meaningful, sustainable development to local communities. As such, Kagem has previously helped set up farming cooperatives in the area.
Currently farmers can only produce rain-fed vegetables during the five rainy months a year when irrigation is easy. The treadle pumps will now enable the farmers to irrigate their land outside the normal rainy season months ensuring a more consistent year-round water supply.
KickStart is the innovator of user-friendly treadle pumps that are cost-effective for the farmers to buy on loan and pay back over time. The pumps are also environmentally friendly as they do not require any fuel or oil to operate, and can be used for more than ten years. Technical back-up and crop management expertise is provided to the farmers at no extra cost and, in addition to subsidising the cost of the pump, Kagem has co-guaranteed the interest-free loans for the pumps from one of its existing suppliers – authorised dealer and distributor Saro Agriculture Engineering.
Kagem’s Sustainability department has also put in place a mechanism to ensure loan repayment is maximised by asking the farmers to self-select themselves into groups based on their ability to pay back the loans on time. In case a member fails to pay, other group members will take care of the amount due and will recover it later from their group-mate.
Kagem General Manager Dibya Baral says; “We are committed to making the treadle pump project a success, thus improving the food security and standard of living for many local farmers and families. We intend to extend the project to more than 100 farmers as well as to various other co-operatives within the mine’s catchment area and are urging the farmers to work extra hard to pay back the loans within the specified period. We are also working with the farmers to improve the quality and diversity of farm produce, therefore creating a broader local marketplace.”