NANCY MWAPE, Lusaka
ZAMBIAN Breweries (ZB) Plc has invested US$ 2.2 million to empower 4,000 small- scale farmers engaged to grow cassava in Luapula Province and plans to turn Mansa town into a ‘cassava capital city of Zambia’.
Luapula Province is one of the regions in Zambia with a huge number of cassava farmers.
Speaking at a media briefing, agricultural manager Chris Nicolle said the company is among the largest buyers of agricultural crops in the country and providing a market for maize, barley, sorghum and cassava that are key ingredients in beer.
“Last year, ZB engaged 4,000 farmers in Luapula Province to supply cassava which is being used in the production of Eagle lager. The company further plans to turn Mansa town, where there are a lot of cassava farmers into a the ‘cassava capital city of Zambia’.
Recently, ZB recently commissioned a US$33 million malting plant in the Lusaka-South Multi Facility Economic Zone (LS-MFEZ) with an initial production capacity of 15,000 tonnes a year.
“The investment in LS-MFEZ has resulted in increased demand for barley from local farmers.
We are also supporting small- scale farmers in drought-prone areas of Siavonga, Itezhi tezhi and along the Zambezi Valley that are growing sorghum. This year, we plan to buy 3,500 tonnes white grain sorghum,” he said.
Mr Nicole said sorghum and cassava are two important ingredients for Eagle large and this year, the company has decided to roll out a programme that is direct farmer solution to the production of white sorghum.
He said ZB is also working with Zambia Agriculture Research Institute to develop new varieties for cassava and invest in mechanisation of cassava production with support from Musika.
“ZB is one of the companies in Zambia is commercially processing cassava.Last year in December, ZB provided an additional K20,000 in puts to farmers,” he said.
He said last year, ZB was faced with the shortage of sorghum as its Eagle lager grew in popularity and demand prompted the company to engage more farmers to drive production.
Mr Nicole said every year, ZB buys huge volumes of maize and this year hopes to engage the farmers union in the buying process.