FAO urges Zambia to consider cassava as major crop

Reading time 2 min.

The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) has urged Zambia to consider cassava as a high-value cash crop that can alleviate hunger at t he same time as it generates money for rural farmers as was the case with the growing of maize. FAO resident representative, Noureddine Mona, noted with satisfaction, however, that the Zambian government had joined hands with his organisation in targetting 5,000 rural cassava farmers for commercialisation of the growing of the crop in three districts of Luapula province.

Apart from Luapula, cassava is also a major dietary crop in Western and North-western provinces where the majority of the people mix cassava flour and maize meal (corn flour) when cooking the staple food nshima. Recently, however, the Zambian government began a scheme under which cassava cultivars are being introduced to the Southern province which due to climate change has experienced severe drought conditions over the last five successive years except for the last rainy season when it was swamped with flash floods.

“The overall objective of this project is to enhance food security among the tar get group through profitable cassava production systems, increased market access and value-addition activities,” Mona said.

Working closely with Non-governmental organisations, the Zambian government is n ot only distributing cassava cultivars but teaching people how to prepare nutrit i ous meals from cassava which include nshima, pastries and snacks for in-between meals. A Zambian company, Authentic Foods of Zambia, has taken step to process cassava into flour and foodstuffs that are to be sold to the general public.

Company chief executive, Emmanuel Chileshe, told Mona at the launch of the processing plant, that cassava was drought resistant and grew easily with little rain and that the crop could easily be a substitute for maize since so many foodstuffs can be made from it.

“if we are to broaden cassava processing we will also create more jobs while at the same time we will see small businesses pay cassava farmers regular incomes for their crops,” Chileshe added.

High cost of living  In the past year alone, food prices have shot through the roof while other household essentials have undergone unprecedented price hikes. Coupled with a global financial meltdown, this situation has been mostly harsh on the poor. The Haiti food riots which began in April, 2008, quickly spread like wild fire to Egypt, Senegal, Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Indonesia, Madagascar, Ivory Coast, Senegal, Cameroon... According to experts, this situation was in part created by careless government policies, the rising popularity of bio-fuels as well as the global financial crisis, among other factors...
Support Follow Afrik-News on Google News