President Edgar Lungu has launched the Cassava Outgrower scheme for the US$190m Sunbird Bioenergy refinery in Kawambwa district.
The company targets to engage 20-thousand farmers by 2021 spending about 20-million dollars on farmers annually.
President Lungu says the cassava processing plant will be a game changer for Kawambwa and the country as a whole as it will increase household income levels.
Launching the scheme in the Luena Farm Block today, President Lungu said cassava has historically been known to be food but expressed happiness that its unlimited potential is now being exploited in Zambia.
He pledged government’s support to value addition and private sector development.
The President further warned that he will not tolerate inertia among key government agencies with the mandate to facilitate private investments.
President Lungu also warned that he will not hesitate to part company with people failing to do their duties.
He also advised the Ministers to focus on working and not on who should be fired because time will come for those failing to work.
And the Head of State has advised farmers to be engaged by Sunbird to honour their promises and not Supply cassava to others while advising the company against exploitation.
He also commended the Luapula Province administration for attracting investments from the Expo while urging them to follow up on investment pledges.
And, Agriculture Minister Michael Katambo expressed happiness that Sunbird working with the Luapula Province administration has honoured President Lungu’s call in 2015 to develop an effective outgrower scheme that will benefit the masses.
He said the Ministry has this year gone flat out to promote cassava value chain as it has finalised cassava development strategy.
Mr Katambo noted that the scheme will benefit the masses and shame doomsayers.
He thanked the President for his leadership in promoting the agriculture sector through participating in farming fish, maize and now cassava.
Meanwhile, Sunbird Chief Executive Officer Richard Bennett said the project will supply about 120-million litres of biofuel annually which is about 10-percent of fuel being imported by Zambia annually.
He called on Kawambwa residents to register for the out-grower scheme to meet the company’s target of 7- hundred thousand tonnes of Cassava Annually.
Mr. Benette said his company will be providing farmers with seedlings and help with agriculture extension officers.
He said his company will start constructing the processing plant this year and set for launch next year with 1-thousand jobs targeted to be created.
Mr. Benette also noted that the company had quickly rolled out its operations owing to infrastructure development by government such as roads.
President Lungu has also been registered as the first honorary outgrower for his farm in Kawambwa where he also planted cassava cuttings.