A bio-energy company has invested US$20 million in a farmer out-grower scheme that will benefit 2 000 farmers in Zambia’s Luapula Province.
Local media reports that the investment by Sunbird Bioenergy Africa will also create economic opportunities for thousands of other small-scale producers.
“So far, close to 300 ha of land has prepared for nurseries,” said chief executive officer Richard Bennett.
Bennet said his company needs 500 000 tons of cassava per year for its ethanol plant, which has the capacity to produce 120 million litres of fuel.
“This can translate into huge savings on the millions of foreign exchange Zambia spends on the importation of fuel,” he said.
Also read: Zambian cassava production hits 3m tons
The Sunbird ethanol plant is located at Kawambwa’s Luena Farm Block in Luapula. When launched in 2015, Pres. Edgar Lungu said it will be a catalyst for increased cassava production.
In Zambia, cassava – a climate change resilient tuber – is the most important crop grown after maize. It is produced by more than 500 000 small-scale farmers, concentrated in Northern, Luapula and Western Provinces. This year’s annual production stands at 3.1 million tons.
The crop is used in the industrial processing of ethanol, sweeteners and starch and in the production of convenience foods. Sometimes, it is also used in making feed and composite flours.