PRISCILLA MWILA, Mansa
MINISTER of Commerce, Trade and Industry Margaret Mwanakatwe says the over K1.2 million cassava starch processing plant in Mansa will
start operating in September this year.
And Mrs Mwanakatwe said Government has funded 1,500 value chain development projects in 62 districts countrywide since 2013, through the Citizens’ Economic Empowerment Commission (CEEC).
Mrs Mwanakatwe was speaking when she commissioned the construction of the cassava starch processing plant in Bahati constituency yesterday.
“Luapula is one of the provinces endowed with vast natural resources and arable land for cultivation. We have already identified crops earmarked for value-chain development to enhance our industrialisation agenda,” she said.
Mrs Mwanakatwe said Government is concerned about the low participation of locals in economic growth, and has put in place measures to scale up support for small-scale enterprises.
She said the ministry will continue creating a good investment climate and economic policies for investment, growth and development.
Mrs Mwanakatwe urged cassava farmers to expand their fields to meet the target needed for the production of starch and earn more money.
Mrs Mwanakatwe said the accomplishment through CEEC underscores Government’s intentions of ensuring 90 percent of the empowerment projects are in rural areas.
She urged other small-scale enterprises to emulate Tatwakakulabe General Contractors and Civil Engineering, who initiated the first-ever cassava starch processing plant in Mansa and make Zambia an attractive destination for more investment.
And CEEC director-general Likando Mukumbuta said the commission has disbursed K11.6 million so far to support various small-scale enterprises such as fish farming, cassava growing and processing, and oil production.
Mr Mukumbuta said the commission will finance 4,000 cassava farmers in the province to enhance production of starch at the plant.
He said the country’s industrialisation agenda must be spearheaded by Zambians, hence the need to ensure they are empowered with the right equipment and finances.
And Bahati member of Parliament Harry Kalaba encouraged the beneficiaries to ensure the project is sustainable and help improve the lives of the people in Luapula.
Mr Kalaba said Luapula has potential to be transformed into a hub for economic activities, but requires concerted efforts from all stakeholders, in-cluding local people.
And managing director of the cassava starch processing plant Noah Kaputula commended Government for putting in place policies to help small and medium enterprises grow their businesses.
Mr Kaputula said an engineer from China will be in the country next week to install the machinery.
The project will employ over 30 local people, majority of whom will be women.