Cassava cropping has taken a new turn in Zambia following the industrial use of the crop in the copper manufacturing process as well as the industrial use in ethanol manufacturing that has further added to the traditional demand as a food crop
Zambia National Farmers Union – ZNFU Vice President Joseph Mungandi said that one good example of where cassava has taken root as a commercial crop is Kaoma in western province.
Mungandi said Kaoma district now has about 1,800 hectors of cassava fields and each hectare is producing approximately 340 bags of cassava. Farmers in Kaoma are growing a lot of cassava and farmers in the district are very interested in the new usage of cassava.
“In the recent past Cassava farmers were sub-contracted with Premiercon Starch Company limited of Kalumbila to supply starch, the said company supplied the starch to the Mines for use in the purification of copper at Kalumbila and Lumwana Mines. They also supplied alcohol brewers and the largest quantity that was supplied of 42,000 metric tonnes was supplied to the said company,” Mungandi said.
He further told ZBT that the union has been running an out-grower’s scheme on cassava in Kaoma district. Four years ago, cassava cuttings distribution was made bringing on board about 350 beneficiaries and each farmer was given half an hectare which equates to 50 x 100 meters and the agreement was that after two years the beneficiaries would give back the cuttings and another 350 farmers would benefit from the scheme and since then there has been an increase in the number of cassava farmers to-date.
He concluded by saying the new expanded discovery of the uses of cassava in Zambia to make alcohol based hand sanitizer has been warmly welcomed by cassava farmers in Kaoma district as it will further increase the market value of the crop.
“It is a very good that the industrial use of cassava has been discovered in Zambia and because the Covid-19 pandemic, Cassava production now can save the country some foreign exchange as hand sanitizers which were previously imported can now be locally produced,” Mungandi added.
Cassava in Zambia is said to be the second most economically important harvest crop as a food crop after the staple national crop, Maize. The crop is widely grown in Luapula, Northern, North-Western and Western provinces although it is also grown in other parts of the country.
In the past cassava was produced in Zambia only by small-scale farmers but in recent years, cassava farming industry and cultivation of the crop has been growing in the sense that there is quite a good number of cassava farmers producing large quantities of the crop in the country.