The government has transformed cassava into an industrial crop following the launch of the Sunbird Bioenergy Zambia cassava project in Kawambwa District of Luapula Province.
And Sunbird Bioenergy Zambia Head of Agriculture Mark Muchinga disclosed that his company has in the last one year registered 5000 smallholder cassava farmers in Kawambwa.
Luapula Province minister Nickson Chilangwa who disclosed this said that unlike in the past when the crop was grown for household food security, it now has various industrial uses.
“ Production of industrial alcohol, ethanol, starch, electricity generation among others as some of the industrial uses of cassava, “ the minister said.
ZANIS reports that Mr. Chilangwa was speaking when he officiated at the first ever cassava crop field day organized by Sunbird Bioenergy Zambia for cassava out- grower farmers in Kawambwa.
Accompanied by his Permanent Secretary Charles Mushota and Bahati Member of Parliament Charles Chalwe, Mr. Chilangwa said President Edgar Lungu’s vicious call for smallholder farmers to participate in cassava value chain has led to the commercialization of the crop.
The crop is now offering more economic opportunities to small scale farmers which will lift thousands out of poverty, He said.
Mr. Chilangwa who is also area Member of Parliament also toured the over 700 hectare cassava nucleus farm in Chitondo area.
According to experts, cassava serves not only as a staple food for mankind but also as an industrial crop for food and non-food applications. The roots with high starch contents are processed to dried chips and extracted pure starch.
The production scale varies from household level, small and medium-sized enterprises (SME), to the large, modern factories. Currently, dried chips are an important carbohydrate source in animal feed as well as for the bio-based economy, for example bioethanol and organic acid production.
Starch is converted to glucose by enzyme hydrolysis and then fermented by microorganisms.
Cassava starch with very high purity has versatile functionalities, particularly when modified, hydrolyzed and derivatized through physical, chemical and enzyme processes, which broaden its applications in food, paper, textile, adhesive, pharmaceutical, cosmetics and chemicals.
And speaking at the same event Sunbird Bioenergy Zambia Head of Agriculture Mark Muchinga disclosed that his company has in the last one year registered 5000 smallholder cassava farmers in Kawambwa.
Mr. Muchinga said the company has earmarked to register 20,000 cassava out-growers to help me the 600,000 metric tons of the cassava feedstock needed to produce ethanol.
Mr. Muchinga explained that the company will be producing 120 million liters of ethanol to be blended with gasoline once the factory is constructed.
Meanwhile, Mr. Muchinga has announced that his company has partnered with GIZ Zambia, Solar Village and Agri-Crop to help in equipping farmers in the cassava crop production best practices.
And in a vote of thanks one of the out-grower farmers David Kunda thanked President Lungu for launching the cassava out-grower scheme which he said has motivated many to join.
Senior Chief Mushota and Chief Munkanta of the Chishinga people attended the event.