President Edgar Lungu says promoting cashew nut production is one of the effective measures for supporting alternative livelihoods, and climate change adaptation.
The President says climate change and its effects on weather patterns in Western Province has made it difficult for farmers to record good maize yields.
He is hopeful that with the right mindset, and growing of suitable crops for the prevailing weather conditions in the country, there is absolutely no reason why farming should not be attractive.
The President said Western province of Zambia comprises about 168, 000 agricultural households out of which about 81% are maize growers and expressed confidence that cashew nut production will transform the lives of many farmers in the country.
President Lungu said cashew nut is tolerant to adverse weather conditions and is a high value cash crop which can become a money spinner for western province.
He said global projection indicates that by the year 2025, raw cashew production will be valued at US$10 billion.
President Lungu said world cashew industry produces over 3.5 million metric tonnes of raw cashew nut; and more than half of this quantity is produced by African countries such as the Ivory Coast, Benin, Tanzania, Nigeria and Mozambique.
He has since urged the provincial administration, working with the ministry of agriculture, and the traditional leadership including, the people of western province to take the cashew project seriously because the country needs to make a return on the US$55.4 million investment made in the cashew nut industry in the Western Province.
The Head of State said government has invested US$55.4 million in western province, specifically to promote cashew nut production through the cashew nut infrastructure development project and envisages that will become a major player in the global cashew industry.
Speaking when he launched the cashew nut planting exercise at Simulumbe Research Station in Mongu, President Lungu said his administration will not rest until increased cashew production is achieved in western province; and the benefits of cashew business trickle down to the people of western province.
The President is disappointed that cashew nut production in Zambia is currently far from being impressive and noted with displeasure that the country is currently producing only about 850 metric tonnes per annum, and has only about 1.7 million cashew trees.
President Lungu said the production of cashew nut in Zambia is very poor and has called on Zambians to rally behind efforts by government and it’s implementing partners to revive the cashew industry.
He has since directed the Ministry of agriculture to ensure that innovative extension service delivery is made accessible to farmers countrywide.