LUSAKA — Finland has signed a deal to support the development of Zambia’s agriculture sector in order to bolster food security in the southern African nation, the Zambia Daily Mail reported on Monday.

FinlandThe 3.8 million euro (about 4 million U.S. dollars) funds are meant to support phase two of a program by the Zambia National Farmers Union (ZNFU) aimed at contributing towards the realization of a sustainable and competitive agriculture sector to improve food security, on-farm income and job creation.

Finnish Ambassador to Zambia Timo Olkkonen said the support will enhance ZNFU’s capacity to consolidate, diversify and develop new services to increase smallholder farmers’ access to productive assets, output and input markets.

The funds will also improve private sector participation in the provision of innovative agricultural services which is a catalyst to improve faring productivity, he added.

“Agriculture continues to be one of Finland’s key focal areas of our development cooperation in Zambia as the sector plays a critical role in diversifying the country’s economy, job creation and reducing poverty and inequality,” he was quoted as saying by the paper.

Ndambo Ndambo, the executive director of the farmers’ body said during the signing ceremony that the financing will contribute to the attainment of positive yields in the agriculture sector.

The financing, he said, will help the organization to effectively lobby for a predictable policy environment for private sector-led agricultural development and for good policies on farming inputs market.

The funding is part of a joint program supported by Finland, Sweden and an agricultural organization We Effect to farmers in Zambia and the second phase runs from 2016 to 2017.