ESTHER MSETEKA, Lusaka
THE construction of a cassava processing plant in North-Western Province at a cost of US$3.5 million will be completed in the third quarter.
Premiercon Starch Limited (PSL) executive officer Lubasi Yuyi said the plant, which anticipates to
be producing 17,200 tonnes of starch per annum, will help create over 120 direct jobs when fully operational.
In response to a query on Thursday, Mr Yuyi said the company has been spearheading the cassava commercialisation with an off-take agreement to supply Kalumbila mine with starch as a flocculant, used in water treatment processing with the aim to improve the filterability of small particles in the floatation of copper processing.
“Designs and buying of the plant [machinery] has been done. It takes six months to manufacture and ship the plant. The construction of the plant started in April, so commissioning is somewhere between August and September 2017.
“We had to change design to incorporate components of manufacturing of starch from both cassava and sweet potatoes in one. We have brought to the fore the versatility of starch and its by-products as a viable rural industrialisation,” he said.
Mr Yuyi said when fully operational, the company will help bring over 10,000 rural unbanked communities into financial inclusion through the various economic activities that will be taking place in the province thereby, contributing to the growth of the country’s gross domestic product.
He said as the price of copper continues on fluctuating, there is need to support the local starch industry by substituting guar gum, a substance made from guar beans used in smoothening of copper cathodes, which is currently being imported from India, to ease the cost of production especially, for the mines.
“I am sure by coming up with innovative ideas in the cassava sub-sector will help the country save foreign exchange while creating jobs in rural areas by using low input crops like cassava and sweet potatoes,” Mr Yuyi said.