KELLY NJOMBO, Lusaka
THE Indaba Agricultural Policy Research Institute (IAPRI) says there is need to regulate and increase funding to the cassava sub-sector, if the country is to explore and enhance export markets of the commodity.
The institute says due to limited access to funds, the Zambia National Cassava Association (ZNCA) is unable to coordinate and come up with a cassava strategic plan that will enable develop the sub-sector.
According to IAPRIâ€™s working paper on opportunities and challenges of the cassava sub-sector in Zambia, despite the country having the potential to increase consumption and production of the commodity, production levels are still low.
â€œThe cassava sub-sector has the potential to increase food security and exports too, but due to various challenges it is still undeveloped. The only way forward to strengthen the cassava sub-sector in Zambia is by increasing funding to ZNCA so that it can coordinate activities of the sector, implement the cassava strategic plan, create demand for cassava human consumption, both dry and fresh, and also processed cassava,â€ IAPRI says.
IAPRI says smallholder farmers are subjected to low yields at farm levels due to limited use of improved seed varieties despite having the potential to increase production.
The institute says there is also a reduction in seed multiplication programmes and this has also contributed to low productivity of the commodity.
IAPRI says the use of improved seed varieties, good agricultural practices and continued funding to research programmes and investing in cheap durable processing technologies that can be used at farm level is vital in increasing consumption and export of cassava.
â€œThere is need to develop the cassava sub-sector as it is a multi-purpose cropâ€¦cassava can be consumed, and it can also be used as animal feed, industrial processing [ethanol, beer brewing, and starch]. Continued funding to research programmes, investing in cheap but durable processing technologies that can be used at farm levels is important, especially that Zambia has a large suitable area for cassava production,â€ IAPRI says.
KELLY NJOMBO, Lusaka