Vice President Mutale Nalumango says the new dawn government is keen to promote the cassava value chain in its quest to diversify the agricultural sector and transform the economy.
Mrs. Nalumango says there is need to fully exploit the potential in commercial cassava production which has for a long-time been overlooked.
Cassava is a viable cash crop owing to its increasing demand for commercial purposes and could help to alleviate poverty.
Mrs. Nalumango said in a speech read for her by Northern Province Minister Leonard Mbao at the launch of the Itabwa Cassava Processing Plant in Kasama.
“Cassava is one of the most grown crops at subsistence level, yet the crop has huge potential for commercial value and poverty alleviation.” Mrs. Nalumango said.
She added that the new dawn administration will also work with traditional leaders in encouraging people to increase cassava yields and exploit the available market both locally and internationally.
“The demand for cassava has significantly increased over the last three years, mainly due to its use in ethanol production, ” she said
Mrs. Nalumango commended Chief Kaputa for spearheading the US$200, 000 project, supported by MUSIKA Zambia and the Citizens Economic Empowerment Commission (CEEC).
Mrs. Nalumango expressed confidence that the initiative will help to increase economic activities through the out-grower schemes and job creation.
And Chief Kaputa, who is the board chairperson of Itabwa Investments, said the commissioning of the Cassava Processing Plant the beginning of a journey to reduce poverty levels in Northern Province and beyond.
He said advancement of agriculture production and industrialization of rural areas are key drivers in alleviating poverty.
Chief Kaputa has since pledged his support to stimulate cassava production and economic growth not only in his chiefdom but the entire Northern region.
“This milestone is the realization of a dream to lift our people out of poverty, as traditional leaders we too can play a role in contributing to economic development.” Chief Kaputa said.
He disclosed that the project is expected to create fifty direct jobs and over six thousand indirect jobs at full-scale implementation.
Earlier, MUSIKA Managing Director Reuben Banda said his organization will continue to provide both technical and financial support towards the enhancement of the cassava value chain.
Mr. Banda added that MUSIKA is proud to partner with Itabwa Investments in promoting the production of cassava among small-scale farmers especially women.
And CEEC representative Kacha Mutenda said the establishment of the Cassava Flour Processing Plant at the Kasama Industrial Yard is a game changer for the area.
Mr Mutenda said the development was welcome for local farmers who previously faced challenges in accessing markets.
Meanwhile, ZHONGKAI International Managing Director, Chen Guiping urged local cassava farmers to explore different varieties and seize the opportunity to increase productivity.
Mr. Chen also thanked government for reducing excise duty in the manufacturing of ethanol from 125 percent to 60 percent.
Itabwa Investments began its operations in 2017 and is run by the Kaputa Royal Establishment.
The company has so far received support of K2.6 million and over K500, 000 from MUSIKA and CEEC respectively.
Chiefs from various provinces witnessed the launch of Itabwa Investments Cassava Processing Plant in Kasama