Bechtel.org, a social enterprise program created by Bechtel to provide underserved communities with critical infrastructure solutions, today announced it has started work in Zambia to establish new marketplaces to improve the availability and quality of agricultural products in rural markets, strengthening food resilience. These new trading centers are strategically located closer to many small farms to provide farmers with faster, more efficient access to commodity buyers. Among other benefits, improving access to buyers will reduce the significant postharvest crop loss resulting from harvesting and homestead storage to transportation to more distant markets.
The ongoing war in Ukraine has affected the shipment of agricultural products globally and exacerbated food insecurity in East Africa. In response, bechtel.org and partners sought ways to boost local output of maize, soybean, sunflower, and groundnuts, which also provide essential cooking oils in Zambia. Bechtel.org is collaborating on the project with consortium partners Empowering Farmers Foundation (EFF), AfricaGlobal Schaffer (AfGS), and USAID’s Africa Trade and Investment initiative (ATI).
“This project is a great fit for bechtel.org to meet its goal in empowering local partners” said Carla Costelloe, bechtel.org Project Team Leader. “Bechtel’s project management and delivery expertise coupled with EFFs local knowledge and community engagement skills will ensure this project is delivered to time, budget and quality, but importantly, in partnership with the local communities we will be serving.”
The project will start with establishing several trading centers closer to small farms starting in the Eastern Province. This includes refurbishing community infrastructure, building local management capacity, providing transaction support to local farmers, and improving linkages between farmers, local buyers, and other supporting businesses.
"We must empower local agricultural communities to be food resilient for the long-term. This project aims to do just that," said Poorva Pandya, EFF Project Director. "Our long-term goal is to create a model that we can repeat and scale-up across more communities in Zambia, building local know-how and better access to productive centers, processing equipment, and business opportunities."
EFF will oversee the implementation and lead the engagement with small farms, local buyers, and government agencies. Bechtel.org is deploying a global team of project managers and engineers to join the EFF Zambia team to help deliver the project. AfGS will support the overall impact measurement and reporting.
Bechtel.org enables Bechtel’s commercial capabilities to deliver Impact Infrastructure—infrastructure directly connected to social impact. Bechtel.org leverages more than 125 years of Bechtel’s innovation in infrastructure delivery. Bechtel’s delivery model has proven to consistently result in the shortest schedules in the industry. Bechtel has delivered 25,000 projects in 160 countries on all seven continents, including process infrastructure for food systems.
EFF is an affiliated entity of Export Trading Group (ETG) and supports the Group's sustainability agenda. They focus on smallholder farmers with training and extension in basic business skills and good agricultural practices, while strengthening farmer organizational capacities. In Zambia, EFF is actively working to build an equitable, sustainable, and inclusive food system through reforestation and integrated farming. EFF, in collaboration with the public sector and ETG Zambia, planted 7.4 million cashew trees over two years in Zambia, which contributes to greenhouse gas reduction, increases forest tree cover, and deploys soil carbon sequestration on small-scale farms while adopting careful land-use planning and management.
AfGS is a U.S.-based private company based in Washington, DC. For over 50 years, they have delivered over 900 projects across 52 African countries in agribusiness, energy, and related infrastructure sectors. From planning, commercial diplomacy, and financing through implementation, operations, and distribution, AfGS provides services for all phases of the project lifecycle. AfGS also helps financial institutions and governments seeking assistance with trade and investment promotion, as well as private corporations seeking assistance with market access.