ESTHER MSETEKA, Lusaka
GOVERNMENT has called for the commercialisation of cassava to enable the crop become a major contributor to the countryâ€™s gross domestic product (GDP).
Currently, an out grower scheme of over 7,000 smallholder farmers with an interest to grow cassava is being developed in Solwezi by Premiercon Starch Company.
Minister in the Office of the Vice-President Sylvia Chalikosa said Government will continue attaching great importance to cassava as a food security crop.
Speaking when she officiated at the Cassava to Flour stakeholders meeting recently, Ms Chalikosa said she was saddened that despite cassava having great potential to contribute to economic growth, the subsector has remained dormant.
â€œAllow me to congratulate the Zambia Business in Development Facility (ZBIDF), the Zambia National Cassava Association and their partners for coordinating and calling for this important stakeholders meeting to conduct a rapid mapping of the cassava value chain based on key stakeholder experience and chart the way forward with regards to value chain coordination, opportunities, challenges and mitigation measures,â€ she said.
Ms Chalikosa said it is Governmentâ€™s agenda to promote diversification of the economy and agriculture through the commercialisation of crops such as cassava.
She further said that in this view, Government has also embarked on transformation reforms of the agriculture sector.
â€œWe are doing this through the rapid transformation of key agricultural value chains including cassava. We are treating agriculture as a wealth creation area and not as a subsistence tradition.
â€œWe are focusing on creating value added products from staple crops such as cassava through an aggressive import substitution programme and other policy reforms to accelerate food production and agricultural resilience,â€ Ms Chalikosa said.
Earlier, ZBIDF managing consultant Ernest Muwamba said there is need to encourage more farmers to venture in cassava farming as it is a climate resistance crop.
â€œWe have been holding various cassava meeting with various stakeholders to look at end to end research that is to see how we can add value to the crop, from the farm to the end user,â€ Mr Muwamba said.
And Zambia Breweries corporate affairs director Ezekiel Sekele said the firm will continue supplementary Government efforts by providing market for smallholder farmers who cultivate barley and cassava.
ESTHER MSETEKA, Lusaka