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Loans for Mechanized Equipment Turn Around Lives of Smallholders in Zambia

Small-scale farmer receives tractor

Small-scale farmer Grimsdale Chonpure poses beside his wife at their home in the Chongwe district in Lusaka province. After receiving a tractor through WFP, he has become a service provider for mechanized equipment in his community, loaning out the tractor to farmers for a low fee. The tractor allows farmers to start planting earlier in the season and boost productivity by shortening the time it takes to prepare the land.

From months to minutes

Grimsdale stands in front of one of his fields, where the soil has been ripped in preparation for harvest using the tractor received through P4P. He has prepared over 1,500 hectares with the machine. Before using the mechanized ripper, it would take several months to prepare the land. Now, with the machine, it only takes about an hour.

 

Building a House

Grimsdale was able to pay back the full loan on the tractor in three years from income received by servicing it out to other farmers. Now that he owns the tractor, he and his wife plan to continue building a new house. With the boost in productivity and time saved from using mechanized equipment, Grimsdale hopes to start a piggery and expand his pottery business to further increase sources of income.

Paying back the loan

With one child already in university, Grimsale is confident that he will be able to send his other daughter (left) to university as well. A hard-working business-minded individual, Grimsdale was one of the first 10 farmers selected to receive a loan through WFP and DZL. Among a pool of 2,300 applicants, lead farmers in the region were selected based on criteria similar to those required by commercial banks.

Renting the tractor

One of Grimsdale’s customers, Isaac Shampango, has been renting the tractor to prepare his field for two years now. “We noticed the difference immediately after using the machine. We’ve done very well. Before we would produce about 200 x 50 kg bags of maize; now we produce between 300 and 400 bags,” says Shampango.

 

Preparing the land

Isaac and his family hoe their maize field after it's been ripped by the tractor they rented from Grimsdale. Without the assistance of mechanized farming equipment, preparing the land for harvesting crops can be a long and labour-intensive process.

The difficulty of obtaining mechanized equipment

Isaac’s wife and children take a break from hoeing the field. Much of the labour for land preparation is done manually, as access to mechanized equipment is limited. It is difficult for farmers to obtain loans necessary to buy the equipment because they often don’t have title deeds to the land.

 

Grimsdale and his customer

Grimsdale stands beside his customer Isaac. He services between 100 and 300 farmers with his tractor each year. Although he is unable to supply all the farmers in the region with mechanized services, he appreciates seeing the difference it makes to his customers and hopes to continue providing such services in the future.

In 2010, small-scale farmer Grimsdale Chonpure (53) received a loan through WFP's partner Dunavant Zambia Limited (DZL) to purchase a tractor for ripping and ploughing, as part of WFP's Purchase for Progress (P4P) initiative in Zambia. Grimsdale outsources the tractor to other farmers in his Chongwe district community. Typically reliant on animal-drawn equipment for land preparation, farmers are able to significantly boost productivity and save time by using the machine.