KALONDE NYATI, Lusaka
ZAMBIAâ€™S cassava production is expected to be boosted following the African Development Bankâ€™s (AfDB) approval of a US$30 million loan that will accelerate inclusive economic growth and sustainable livelihood.
The loan, approved by the AfDB board of executive directors in Abidjan to the Zambian government, will support the skills development and entrepreneurship project aimed at supporting women and youth cassava producers.
According to a statement issued by the AfDB mission in Lusaka yesterday, the loan will support the development of the cassava value chain with a focus on the commercialisation of cassava products through local and regional market linkages, technology and innovation and enabling government policy reforms.
â€œThe industrial clusters will equip 17,000 cassava farmers associations and co-operatives with business and technical skills for the production and the commercialisation of cassava products to ensure high yields accompanied by timely and efficient production and storage capacity,â€ the statement reads.
Under the project, the funds will be used for construction of 15 cassava-bulking centres, five of which will be equipped for the piloting of the production of fortified garri, which is a meal made out of cassava tubers, by a co-operative of 500 women.
Spill-over benefits of increased production of cassava will contribute to food security in the region, improved nutrition and early childhood development through fortified cassava products in school-feeding programmes.
â€œ[This] will also contribute to additional inputs to livestock and fisheries feed and inputs to the paper and extractives industry,â€ AfDB says.
The project, to be implemented in seven provinces, will support Governmentâ€™s efforts to urgently reduce levels of extreme poverty and unemployment among youth, and result in the development of 10 industrial clusters in urban and rural areas.
This will improve competitiveness for about 1,000 micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) through business and technical skills, access to technology and innovation for product development, market linkages and linkages with financial institutions.
KALONDE NYATI, Lusaka