President Edgar Lungu has warned companies implementing out-grower schemes to avoid exploiting the ignorance of small-scale farmers in the country.

And President Lungu says he will not condone inertia from government departments that delay the implementation of worthwhile projects by the private sector.

Speaking when he launched the Cassava Out-grower scheme by Sunbird Bio Energy Limited, Monday, President Lungu cautioned against the continued exploitation of small-scale farmers by private sector companies.

“I wish to urge Sunbird, and all other companies implementing out-grower schemes, to continue giving farmers fair contracts. My government has noticed that in the past, out-grower scheme operators have taken advantage of small-scale farmers, who have been exploited because of their ignorance. This practice will not be allowed. As government, we’ll ensure that small-scale farmers are protected from exploitation. Government is keen to see a win-win situation, where Sunbird or any other out-grower scheme operators benefit, while the welfare of small-scale farmers on the scheme is also uplifted,” President Lungu said.

The Head of State, however, congratulated Luapula Province Minister Nickson Chilangwa for the achievements his province had achieved since the holding of the provincial expo in 2017.

“Recent investment developments coming into Luapula Province and many other provinces is attributed to investment expositions provinces have been hosting. I, therefore, wish to encourage the Provincial Minister and his team to continue following-up on investment pledges made during the Luapula Province Investment Expo in 2017. Congratulations for what you have achieved since the Expo, and please ensure that you continue with this momentum,”said President Lungu.

“As I mentioned earlier, the production and processing of cassava in Zambia is not yet at the level it should be. This is mainly because the cassava industry is affected by a number of challenges…With the coming on board of projects like the Sunbird Cassava Out-grower scheme, farmers should no longer be discouraged to grow cassava.”