About 1700 out of the targeted 20,000 cassava out-grower farmers for the 2019/20 farming season have been captured by Sunbird Bioenergy Africa in Kawambwa District.
Company Chief Executive Officer Richard Bennett has confirmed, following the launch of the out-grower scheme by President Edgar Lungu last month, adding that his company has been on a recruitment drive to capture local farmers.
Mr. Bennett who was impressed with the pace at which the registration of farmers was moving said his firm would meet the required mass of cassava stockpile meant for the production of ethanol.
He explained that the out-grower scheme would register 20,000 farmers once fully rolled out to the entire Luapula Province.
And Mr. Bennett has disclosed that the construction of the bioenergy refinery plant which would start this year was expected to be completed next year.
Meanwhile, Sunbird Bioenergy Project Manager Mark Muchinga said the registered out-grower farmers would be entitled to cassava planting materials, fertiliser, pesticides, agriculture extension services sale of the produce to the company among others as part of the Sunbird package.
Mr. Muchinga also noted that a total of 700 hectares had been inspected and actualised from the 348 farms as part of the out-grower scheme within a radius of 30 Kilometers in Kawambwa.
He said a good number of farmers who had signed up for the out-grower scheme had prepared their fields in readiness for planting this year.
He noted that the company had enough cassava planting materials to meet demand.