CHC was formed to fill a gap in Zambia’s agricultural sector: reliable storage and handling facilities and credible brokerage services for bulk commodities. From blue chip companies to relief agencies, CHC provides storage, handling and shipping services, sourcing over 40,000 metric tonnes of maize, sunflower, soya bean, sorghum and cassava from its six buying depots across the country.
Until recently, CHC has worked primarily as a commodity trader, preferring to purchase from intermediaries rather than from smallholder farmers directly. However, with these same farmers meeting about 80% of the country’s food needs, CHC is reaching out to them – not just to meet orders, but to build the capacity of smallholder farmers to become productive long-term suppliers.
For smallholder farmers in Zambia, enhancing productivity, access to markets for their products, and high transport costs have made getting crops to market an expensive and time-consuming effort . Accounting for just 10% of GDP, the agricultural sector has been held back by a shortage of skills, weak infrastructure and communications, and high rates of poverty in rural communities. Of all the countries where AgDevCo invests, Zambia has the highest risk of food insecurity.
CHC has not worked directly with smallholder farmers but has seen the need to build closer relationships with the farmers to secure their supply base to meet market demand. The SDU partnership will assist them in this endeavour. With support from the SDU, CHC is providing technical support and training for 10,000 smallholder farmers in three provinces, showcasing good agricultural practices at 125 new demonstration plots, rewarding top-performing farmers at field days, and establishing three new decentralized buying and processing points to provide a reliable, accessible, and transparent market for farmers to sell their cereal and cash crops.