President Edgar Lungu has today commissioned an ultra-modern National Milling Corporation plant in Lilayi that will mill about 600 metric tonnes of wheat per day.
The plant will commence by milling wheat only and after a period of twelve months, will start maize processing a move the President said should encourage farmers to start growing wheat.
President Lungu noted that wheat production increasing over the years, Zambia still has not reached comfortable levels to meet local demand thereby relying on imports.
The President however noted that wheat being an irrigated crop, farmers are faced with a number of challenges to grow this crop among them power deficit and load shedding which is affecting wheat yields and profitability.
He said this Scenario is inhibiting early maize production planted in October with irrigation, and is artificially dried in April and may for the market.
He said the wheat and maize industries contribute significantly to national food security hence his government takes these industries seriously.
The President has assured farmers that government will do everything possible to address the power challenges.
Meanwhile, President Lungu has implored national milling and other investors in the maize and wheat industry not to ignore cassava.
He said cassava is easy to grow and is Zambia’s second largest food crop.
The president said the crop is drought resistant, and has many industrial uses and is an important crop which can support government’s strategy to uplift the welfare of small-scale farmers.
He said government is now embarking on a programme to commercialize the cassava industry in Zambia.
“I am aware that Zambian Breweries PLC is one of the off takers for the cassava grown by smallholders in the country. Some millers also blend cassava with maize. This, i am informed is one way of making mealie meal affordable to ordinary consumers”, he said.
President has urged all millers to look into possibilities of blending maize and cassava as is the case in other countries adding that Democratic Republic of congo have already made a request for Zambia to export cassava meal to that country.
He said the DRC guarantees a huge ready market for this market and there is no doubt that Zambia has a yawning market locally and abroad.