THE cassava out-grower project being undertaken by Zambian Breweries has equipped farmers with digital financial skills as well as financial knowledge, says Luapula Province, Nickson Chilangwa.
Mr Chilangwa said the project had empowered small-scale farmers through the Chembe BanQu automated payment system.
He said the smart agriculture initiative had given cassava farmers in the province a sure market for their produce.
He said this in a speech read by Luapula Province Assistant Secretary Charles Daka during the launch of the 2020 cassava harvest season at Mansa’s Farm Institute recently.
“Gone are the days of cassava wastage in our province due to lack of buyers. Gone are the days when our farmers would travel several miles in search for buyers, because Zambian Breweries is on board as that reliable buyer and agro-partner,” Mr Chilangwa said.
Zambian Breweries launched its cassava project in 2016 to increase local sourcing of raw materials and improve the livelihood of smallholder farmers in Luapula, Northern and Muchinga provinces.
The country’s largest brewing company is targeting to buy between 3,000 and 4,000 tonnes of cassava in 2020 from last year’s 3,000 tonnes.
Mr Chilangwa also said the launch of the 2020 cassava harvesting and buying season in Zambia was another milestone in the growth of the cassava subsector in the country.
During the launch, Zambian Breweries together with Musika and cassava aggregators donated various items aimed at keeping cassava farmers in Luapula province safe as they harvested the root crop under the ‘new normal’.
The items included thermometers, hand sanitisers and face masks.
And Musika donated a brand-new Isuzu pickup truck valued, just under, at K600,000 to the Cassava Project.
“This Isuzu pickup truck will go a long way in helping our farmers access the market faster and easier, thereby, making the whole process efficient,” said Musika Cassava Diversification Manager, Victor Chisi.
Cassava is a key ingredient in brewing the company’s affordable local beer brand Eagle Lager.