WASHINGTON, April 7, 2011 – The World Bank Board of Directors today approved a US$115 million credit for the Irrigation Development and Support Project (IDSP) to enable Zambia to overhaul its irrigation subsector. Zambia’s Sixth National Development Plan’s goal for the agriculture sector is to “increase and diversify agriculture production and productivity so as to raise the share of its contribution to the GDP by 2015”.
This project will therefore bring together smallholders and agribusiness investors in shared irrigation schemes with complementary roads and power, contracted management of the irrigation, and professional guidance to the smallholders in order to increase yield per hectare and value of diverse products marketed by both small and large holders benefitting from this IDSP investment.
Although agriculture and agro-processing sectors contribute about 40 percent of the GDP and roughly 12 percent of national export earnings, it has contributed less than proportionately to aggregate growth. The latent potential inherent in the abundant land and water has clearly not yet been tapped. Primary agriculture employs about 67 percent of the labor force, and produces only about 20 percent of GDP. Agriculture remains small scale and labor intensive, and most producers work two hectares or fewer.
“The relatively slow growth of agriculture over the past decade explains why rapid national aggregate growth has brought little reduction of poverty. Yet agriculture is Zambia’s lowest hanging fruit that has the biggest potential to lift many people out of poverty,” said Kapil Kapoor, Zambia’s World Bank Country Manager, “In addition to helping to improve poverty levels of the rural populace through all year agricultural production and better access to markets, the Irrigation Development Support Project will bring the rural economy into mainstream economy thereby helping to reduce the poverty gap between the urban and the rural population.”
The project, which will be developed in proposed selected sites, is expected to be implemented over seven years, with a completion date of June 15, 2018 and a closing date of December 15, 2018. It has four components:
- Irrigated Agricultural Support Services: will provide knowledge and skills, and strengthen capacity of beneficiaries to prepare and operate medium-to-large size smallholder irrigation schemes on a sustainable commercial basis through the use of partnership agreements between the Government, communities and the private sector.
- Public Infrastructure: will provide bulk water supply and associated infrastructure required to establish medium-to-large size smallholder irrigation schemes under agreed partnership agreements. The infrastructure will be fully financed by IDA credit and owned by the Government.
- Private and Cooperative Investment: will facilitate private and cooperative investment in productive equipment and assets in and around irrigation schemes. It will also stimulate the establishment of small-scale enterprises.
- Component 4: Management and Coordination: will ensure efficient and timely delivery of project resources in accordance with the project’s objectives and to strengthen the irrigation sector policy and institutional framework. The component will provide funding for project management, support to policy and institutional framework, safeguard issues management and oversight, and monitoring and evaluation.
Commenting on the on the components of the project, Senior Agriculturalist, Indira Ekanayake said, “These interventions are expected to ensure that agricultural production and crop diversification will occur throughout the year. This will ensure that Zambia’s abundant water resource and arable land will be used to the full extent and profitably to bring Zambia’s potential as a breadbasket to reality.”