Loan from PIDG companies
Irrigated commercial farm development
In 2006, InfraCo Africa, part of the Private Infrastructure Development Group (PIDG), launched a pioneering pilot project, Chanyanya, in Zambia’s Kafue district. The project was designed to address the fact that smallholders lacked the required scale, finance and specialist knowledge to access the benefits of irrigation enjoyed by commercial farms. The Chanyanya pilot pooled smallholders’ land and established a cooperative to enable development of irrigation infrastructure for an 148ha commercial farm and 126 market gardens.
InfraCo Africa subsequently worked with the Government of Zambia (GoZ) to secure grant funding from the Dutch ORIO Infrastructure Fund (ORIO) to extend existing infrastructure to deliver sufficient canal capacity to irrigate up to an additional 3,800ha of land. The GoZ has now commissioned private investor CHIDECO (an associated company to SUDECO) to build, manage and maintain the new bulk water infrastructure on its behalf.
InfraCo Africa has committed up to US$12.5m in a convertible loan to the Chiansi project company and has also secured US$6m in grant funding from ORIO and US$5m from PIDG’s Technical Assistance Facility (TAF).
Collectively, this financing will enable the Chiansi project to begin construction, establishing an irrigated commercial farm and providing access to water for community market gardens as well as enabling expansion of the existing Chanyanya project area.
The scheme will support delivery of the Chiansi project which will irrigate land in three neighbouring communities (Chikupi and Demu North and South), enabling the development of a 1,336ha irrigated commercial farm and providing water to irrigate market gardens owned by local smallholders. Chiansi will also facilitate the establishment of market garden committees in two of the communities to enable agricultural knowledge to be shared, improving land productivity. The new infrastructure will also enable expansion of the original Chanyanya pilot area – irrigating a further 124ha of land and creating 15ha of additional market gardens for cultivation by Chanyanya’s smallholders.
In June 2019, the project took receipt of its first consignment of couplings for the pipes which were manufactured in neighbouring Botswana for use on the project. The pipes are due to be delivered to site in August 2019. The pipes will carry water from the Kafue basin to the project and community areas.
I am honoured to share this ground-breaking to mark the beginning of the construction of the Chiansi Irrigation project. This project could not have come at a more appropriate time. With the threat of climate change, irrigation is needed to boost production and to enhance food security. Agriculture is a lifeline for all of us.