Bechtel’s social enterprise, bechtel.org, has teamed up with development agency USAID to build distribution centres in Zambia to prevent the wastage of maize, a staple food crop.
Zambia is among the African countries facing food and fertiliser shortages caused by the war in Ukraine.
The centres will connect farmers with buyers along East African trade routes to get more maize to market.
Partners aim to get seven centres built and operating before this May’s harvest, with plans to increase the number to 23, handling 100,000 metric tons of maize and other crops.
They will also provide logistics support and equipment to protect harvested crops and transaction support to promote sales.
USAID said eliminating Zambia’s post-harvest maize wastage would get sufficient food to some 1.5 million Zambians.
The scheme is a public-private partnership involving agribusiness firm AfricaGlobal Schaffer and South African firm Export Trading Group, with its social impact arm, Empowering Farmers Foundation.
Maize is grown widely in Zambia but a lack of infrastructure means much goes to waste. USAID said that while 80% of smallholding farmers in Zambia produce the crop, maize contributes up to 30% of the country’s post-harvest losses.
Bechtel’s corporate relations manager Stu Jones said “our efforts will save lives, improve the future of the continent, and ensure sustainable outcomes”.