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ZAMBIA Cooperative Federation director-general James Chirwa (right) with Shandong Dejian Group Company Limited general manager Huang Meng inspect part of the consignment for solar-powered milling plants that will be established in selected parts of the country. PICTURE: BRIAN MALAMA

Solar hammer mills welcome initiative

THE unveiling of solar-powered hammer mills could not have come at a better time than now when the country is grappling with load-shedding.
Solar-powered hammer mills, which are expected to be installed in various parts of the country soon, are an initiative born out of President Lungu’s trip to China recently.
The hammer mills, coming under the auspices of the Presidential Milling Initiative, were rolled out on Wednesday by the Zambia Cooperative Federation (ZCF), which unveiled the first three of 2,000 mills being introduced to help reduce mealie-meal prices.
The three hammer mills bought and delivered at a cost of US$100,000 will be distributed to North-Western, Northern and Lusaka provinces.
The other benefit of the Presidential Milling Initiative is that it will create over 3,000 jobs for the Zambians.
This will be a significant boost to the economy and will help reduce the number of unemployed youths.
The role of Government is to provide an enabling environment for economic growth.
Therefore, China’s provision of the 2,000 hammer mills at a cost of US$200 million is a welcome move.
The fact that the small milling plants, to be located across the country, means that all provinces will benefit from this initiative designed to reduce poverty.
The small hammer mills will also have a ripple effect because they will create a ready market for small-scale farmers.
Our farmers have for a long time been selling their maize and other cereals to the Food Reserve Agency without any value addition.
The hammer mills will also add value to cooperatives, whose mandate was limited to distributing agricultural inputs and storing maize.
We are also glad to learn that Shandong Dejian Group Company Limited, the undertakers of the project, will construct five training schools for building capacity, especially in the youth so that they can operate the equipment and help reduce poverty at individual and household levels.
This will build the capacity of the cooperatives to manage the hammer mills.
Beyond the cooperatives managing the hammer mills, we expect the hammer mills to flood the country.
This is because this technology has been lacking in the country.
Our people were only exposed to fuel and electricity-powered hammer mills which are expensive to maintain.
We therefore urge Government to engage Shandong Dejian Group Company Limited to start assembling solar-powered hammer mills in the country.
This will make the hammer mills cheaper.