Lusaka, Zambia – Zambian Breweries has called for partnership with fellow private sector players in order to advance developmental projects and help government develop Zambia.
At the Zambia Business in Development Facility (ZBiDF) ‘Cassava to flour’ stakeholders’ meeting in Lusaka recently Zambian Breweries corporate affairs director Ezekiel Sekele expressed satisfaction with the partnership and how it is working for his company.
The purpose of the meeting was to provide an update of the activities undertaken within the cassava sub-sector and the value chain since the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) last year.
Mr Sekele reiterated that Zambian Breweries would continue working with small-scale farmers by guaranteeing a market for their produce in order to enhance the standard of living for the farmers. He expressed delight as to how the company’s investment in manufacturing Eagle lager was transforming farming family livelihoods.
He said there was a direct connection between the brands and farmers, to which he gave the example of Mosi with commercial barley farmers and Eagle with small-scale cassava farmers.
Mr Sekele said the company planned to buy over 3,000 tonnes of cassava this year and commended the government for investing in the cassava value chain.
Minister in the Vice President’s Office Hon. Sylvia Chalikosa in her keynote address reiterated government’s commitment to diversify the economy to move it from mining to other sectors of the economy such as tourism and agriculture.
Hon Chalikosa said in agriculture, the commercialisation of cassava was one such opportunity.
Shesaid the partnership was a key response to the President, Edgar Chagwa Lungu’s call for multi-stakeholder action on the development efforts of the country.
“My government has continued to attach great importance to cassava as a food security crop. I should add that nothing is more important than food. A nation that does not feed itself becomes a threat to its own sovereign existence. Growing our own food, processing what we produce, will make us more competitive in export markets, creating jobs across our economy which is an ingredient for national security,” said Ms Chalikosa.
She further commended the ZBiDF and Zambia National Cassava Association (ZANACA) for taking the initiative to facilitate dialogue and call for meetings of the players of the cassava value chain which had resulted in the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding.
ZBiDF Managing Consultant Ernest Muwamba explained that ZBiDF had been facilitating dialogue around the cassava value chain in order to commercialise the crop in Zambia as a means of creating jobs.
ZANACA has been working with the ZBiDF to ensure that the efforts in the cassava sub-sector are co-ordinated to have impact.
Cassava to Flour Products Partnership Chairman Yuyi Lubasi, who is also CEO of Premiercon Starch Company (PSCL) indicated that he was working with 7,000 farmers in Western and North-Western Provinces and foresaw working with more so that they can see farming as a business in order for them to supply the cassava that is needed for onward transfer to the mines.
The Ministry is currently working with other stakeholders to review the 2010-2015 National Cassava Strategy.
And among issues that came up at the meeting included lack of funds for equipment, reagents and information dissemination, lack of trained personnel, Inadequate cutting varieties and lack of markets.