The first-ever cassava milling plant in Chitambo district, Central Province constructed at a cost of three million United States dollars has been completed and handed to government.
Chitambo District Agricultural Coordinator, Katumwa Mutandi says the cassava milling plant has immense potential to contribute to the country’s gross domestic product (GDP).
Speaking to the media after the handover ceremony of the plant from the Contractor, Hue Sheng to the Government, Mr. Mutandi said the contractor has met their contractual obligations and have finished the works adding that what remains is the official commissioning of the Plant.
Mr. Mutandi said the availability of the milling plant in the district will provide farmers within and outside Chitambo district with ready market to sell their produce and ultimately contribute to crop diversification as people will stop concentrating on maize alone.
He said the milling plant will also be able to support other sectors such as Livestock because the plant will be producing feed for both chicken and fish farmers.
“The milling plant came as a result of lack of market for our cassava farmers. Most of their Cassava used to be burned or wasted due to lack of market. That is now a thing of the past,” he said.
Additionally, Mr Mutandi said the plant will create approximately 140 jobs for the local people as machines are many and will require about 36 staff for every eight hour working shift.
And speaking on behalf of Hua Sheng, General ManagerMin Zhou said the contractor is thankful for the cordial working relationship experienced during the time frame of constructing the Plant.
“We have been working as a team in this project, we handover the keys today and we say thank you for trusting us with the project,” he said.
Meanwhile, Ministry of Agriculture Principal Agricultural Economist, Vincent Malata urged farmers to double their efforts in terms of cassava production as it will not make business sense if a project of this magnitude runs for three months and shuts down because raw materials are not coming through.
He said the Ministry remains hopeful and confident that farmers will produce enough cassava to ensure that the plant runs from one harvest to the other.
And speaking on behalf of the Farmers, District Cooperative Union Chairperson Richard Chisenga said Chitambo farmers are extremely happy that the market for cassava produce is now at their doorstep.
He said it is a good indication to the farmers to strongly consider increasing their hectarage.
“Years back; we had nowhere to take our cassava. It used to get rotten in our fields or sheds. The coming of this plant is a huge relief to us as we are now certain beyond doubt that we will sell our cassava and raise more revenue for ourselves,” he said.
Mr. Chisenga called on the Ministry of Agriculture to help farmers with new cassava varieties so that it helps boost the morale of the farmers beyond their expectations.
The Cassava Milling Plant is an infrastructural project supported by government under the Agricultural Productivity and Market Enhancement Project (APMEP).
Chitambo District currently boasts of 6,000 hectares of cultivated cassava with 4,420 registered cassava farmers.