President Edgar Lungu says his government is committed to reviving the cashew industry in Zambia because it has potential to transform the lives of the people within a short period of time.
Speaking during a cashew nut planting exercise in Mongu, Tuesday, President Lungu said government had invested US$55.4 million in cashew nut production in Western Province.
“Cashew nut production is the way to go especially for the people of Western Province. Cashew nut is tolerant to adverse weather conditions, and most importantly, it is a high value cash crop which can become a money spinner for Western Province.
It is my desire that all farmers in Western Province become wealthy from cashew nut production. The global projection indicates that by the year 2025, raw cashew production will be valued at 10 billion United States dollars. The world cashew industry produces over 3.5 million metric tonnes of raw cashew nut; and more than half of this quantity is produced by African countries such as the Ivory Coast, Benin, Tanzania, Nigeria and Mozambique. My government has invested 55.4 million united states dollars in Western Province, specifically to promote cashew nut production through the cashew nut infrastructure development project,” President Lungu said.
“Government envisages Zambia becoming a major player in the global cashew industry. In this respect, I urge the provincial administration, working with the ministry of agriculture, and indeed, the traditional leadership including, the people of western province to take the cashew project seriously. This project should be taken seriously because the country needs to make a return on the 55.4 million united states dollars investment. I, and my administration will not rest until increased cashew production is achieved in Western Province; and the benefits of cashew business trickle down to the people of Western Province.”
He said the production rate was disappointing at the moment.
“It is disappointing to note that at the moment, cashew nut production in the country is far from impressive. Currently, the country is only producing about 850 metric tonnes per annum, and we only have about 1.7 million cashew trees in the country. The production of cashew nut in Zambia is very poor, and I know, we can do better than this. On the positive side though, I have no doubt that the cashew industry in Zambia will be turned around, and will become a vehicle for wealth creation for many farmers in the country,” President Lungu said.
Meanwhile, President Lungu thanked his Tanzanian counterpart John Magufuli for assisting Zambia with cashew seedlings.
“Some of you may recall that towards the end of last year, I held a meeting with my Tanzanian counterpart, Dr John Pombe Magufuli; the President of the Republic of Tanzania, during which I appealed for support from Tanzania towards our local cashew industry.
As you know, Tanzania is one of the leading cashew producing countries in Africa, and we have a lot to learn from them. Following my interaction with my counterpart in Tanzania, Zambia has been given a major donation of 25 metric tonnes of cashew seedlings. Once again, I wish to publicly express my sincere gratitude to His Excellency, my dear brother, Dr Magufuli for his great gesture to the Zambian government, and indeed the people of Zambia,” said President Lungu.