May 2, 2024

By Penjani Nzima

THE long-awaited inaugural Farmers Choice Awards (FCA) Southern Africa ceremony, organized and presented by Lumbani Chilenga (LC) Investments Ltd, finally took place at the Prestigious Golden Peacock Hotel here in Lusaka on 7th March 2024.

It was a colorful and wonderful night that saw farmers and pundits in the agriculture landscape momentarily put away their overalls, work suits as well as Personal Protective Equipment (PPE’s).

The male folk were clad in their priceless, slim fit designer suits while the ladies came out immaculate in their assorted costly dinner dresses giving it an elegant feminine touch truly befitting the night.

As if that was not enough, the whole occasion never had any dull moment as it was seriously punctuated by cool, captivating and warm sentimental musical melodies churned out by the mesmerizing Eagles band from Zambia National Service (ZNS) alongside the ever-charming Master of Ceremony (MC) Wiseman Zulu

And speaking earlier CA coordinator Gideon Chilenga said these awards have been instrumental in recognizing and celebrating excellence in the agricultural sector.  

He added that this award giving ceremony is purely put up to appreciate the tireless hardworking agro dealers, agronomists and agriculture companies.

Mr Chilenga said the selection and voting of nominees is done exclusively by the farmers hence its name.

“The Farmers Choice Awards have been uniquely crafted to capture the opinions of the end users – the farmers and the general public. In a true reflection of its name, these awards are a platform for you, the service providers, to receive direct feedback from those who matter the most – the farmers. The nominations and votes have all been orchestrated by the very people who utilize your services and products,” he indicated.

Mr. Chilenga disclosed that the awards process had two crucial stages – a call for entries and the voting phase.

“This year, we have a total of 22 categories, showcasing the diverse sides of excellence within the agricultural industry. It's worth noting that we are open to reviewing and refining these categories annually,” he explained.  

And VisionFund Micro Finance Institution in Zambia, one of the sponsors of the FCA, Chief Executive Officer (C.E.O) Simon Ziba noted that the institution’s mission is to empower farmers by providing agro financial services that not only enables them to expand their entrepreneur enterprises but also unleashes their potential.

“We need to embrace techniques in agriculture that supports the right climate smart as you are aware right now, we’re passing this phase and it needs every one of us concerted efforts to ensure that we help the farmer out there and Vision Fund,” said Mr. Ziba.  

And speaking during the same event, Serah Kamoto NATSAVE Director Cooperate Banking said the bank is the only financial institution that has its presence in the 14districts of this nation.

She indicated that these branches are found even in the rural outskirts of this country where the majority of the farmers are found.

“Our farmers need to find a financial institution that is willing and able to provide financial support. You will agree with me that on a number of occasions farmers are made to pay for themselves because access to financial or access to credit facilities is usually a challenge,” said Ms Kamoto.

She added that the bank extends its financial support to farmers through government’s programmes such as the newly launched Sustainable Agriculture Finance facility.

Ms. Kamoto indicated that NASAVE was the lead bank to provide lease fund in the 2023/2024farming season and gave out K 600, 000,000 to ensure that farmers are able to buy the necessary farming implements that they require.

And Snow Trading Director Karan Kapoor also spoke during the same event. He disclosed that the company is motivated to work alongside farmers in order to create sustainable agriculture solutions.

“The confidence that farmers have shown in Snow is motivating and drives us to continue developing new agriculture solutions. We understand the importance of how these farmers view their yield,” he explained.  

Dr Chizumba Shepande - Director, Ministry of Agriculture graced the event as Guest of Honour.

He made a passionate appeal to the insurance companies in the country to develop insurance products that will not only cater for commercial farmers but also small-scale farmers to ensure their resilience in the face of adversity.  

“Similarly, I challenge financial institutions to provide accessible financing options tailored to the unique needs of our agricultural community. Furthermore, I urge seed companies to prioritize the development of drought-resistant Crop varieties, equipping farmers with the necessary tools to withstand the changing climatic conditions,” Dr. Shepande noted.

And speaking after receiving the award of Best Organic Farm Products Supplier of the year, Chimoko Seedlings Director, Maunga Ngoma was delighted to be the winner in the highly and tightly contested category.

“We give thanks to the farmers who supported us. We give thanks to the whole team of workers who help us to produce the fertilizer which farmers are using.” Mr. Ngoma said.

Then in the category of Best Agronomist of the Year, Maanda Elizabeth Sianga fondly known as Young Farmer Maanda emerged as the overall winner and had this to say,” It’s such an Honour to receive this prestigious award to night. I’m not exceptional to night but a representative of all the phenomenal agronomist in Zambia doing a great job and supporting our farmers.”    

FARMER'S CHOICE AWARDS 2023 (agricoopnews.com)


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