Kagem Mining Limited has extended aid to 22 co-operative farmers in Nkana and Lumpuma to acquire subsidised foot powered pumps.

The emerald miner has partnered with KickStart and the ministry of agriculture to assist small-scale farmers mostly women to kick start irrigation projects.

Kagem mine has committed to buy produce by the co-operatives for use in its canteens.

The company believes agriculture is one of the major economic drivers that can bring about meaningful, sustainable development to local communities.

Kagem has previously helped set up farming cooperatives in the two areas. Currently farmers have been only producing rain-fed vegetables during the five rainy months of a year.

Kegan Mining says the treadle pumps will enable the farmers to irrigate their land outside the normal rainy season months ensuring a more consistent year-round water supply.

KickStart is the innovator of user-friendly treadle pumps that are cost effective for the farmers to buy on loan and pay back over time.

The pumps are also environmentally friendly as they do not require any fuel or oil to operate and can be used for more than ten years.

As part of the scheme, technical back-up and crop management expertise is provided to the farmers at no extra cost and in addition to subsidising the cost of the pump.

Kagem has co-guaranteed the interest-free loans for the pumps from one of its existing suppliers: authorised dealer and distributor Saro Agriculture Engineering.

In addition, Kagem’s sustainability department has also put in place a mechanism to ensure loan repayment is maximised by asking the farmers to self-select themselves into groups based on their ability to pay back the loans on time.

“We are committed to making the treadle pump project a success, thus improving the food security and standard of living for many local farmers and families,” said Kagem General Manager Dibya Baral.

Baral said the company intend to extend the project to more than 100 farmers as well as to various other co-operatives within the mine’s catchment area and are urging the farmers to work extra hard to pay back the loans within the specified period.

“We are also working with the farmers to improve the quality and diversity of farm produce, therefore creating a broader local marketplace.”