The country’s largest copper miner, First Quantum Minerals (FQM) has embarked on a programme to identify opportunities for local farmers as part of its pledge to empower through market linkage programmes.
The mine’s Trident Foundation is currently supporting over 200 farmers on the programme under which they are provided with a market to sell their produce.
“The purpose of the market linkage programme is to connect farmers with the market here in Kalumbila, the biggest markets being our caterers here on the mine which is ATS, and of course our supermarket here in town – Choppies,” said Trident Foundation Community Development Superintendent Matthew Blair.
Mr Blair said that local business development and procurement have long been a priority at Kalumbila mine, adding that there was a lot of potential for local vegetable farmers in not only supplying Kalumbila, but the whole of North-Western Province.
“Our core projects that we are currently focussing on are local business development training, women and youth empowerment, alternative livelihoods, which includes market linkage programmes, vocational training and scholarships and community infrastructure. So, we are currently doing total purchases from the farmers of about K50,000 to K60,000 worth per month, which is obviously going directly to the farmers,” he said.
Mr Blair explained that most of the farmers do not have the ability to be self-suppliers to the market, hence the mine saw it fit to come on board and help farmers in finding a market for the vegetables.
The mining firm is trying as much as possible to help remove barriers to the growth of the farming sector in the area as part of its effort to create secondary economic development near its mining activities.
Capacity-building of local farmers is key to the success of the market linkage programme, which is also aimed at motivating farmers to increase their production capacity. And the success of the market linkage programme has led proponents to suggest further dimensions to the programme such as capacity building in best farming methods.