Luapula, Zambia – The resurgence of cassava as a profitable cash crop in Zambia has taken center stage, thanks to initiatives that promote its diverse uses, including its incorporation into the brewing industry. This transformation is particularly evident in Luapula Province, where cassava farming has become a thriving practice, contributing to agricultural diversity and economic empowerment.
Cassava, once a subsistence crop, is now gaining prominence as a versatile industrial raw material with applications spanning human consumption and industrial production. Recognizing the potential of cassava as a catalyst for economic growth, Zambian Breweries has partnered with local farmers in Luapula Province to foster its cultivation and use in the brewing process.
Luapula Province Agricultural Coordinator, Godwin Chate, highlighted the initial challenges that inhibited cassava farming’s progress, including lack of suitable cassava varieties for local soils and inadequate market access. These challenges, coupled with the inability to grow maize throughout the year, resulted in economic hardship for many farmers in the region.
In response, Mr. Chate and his team embarked on a mission to diversify agricultural practices and empower local communities. Their collaboration with Zambian Breweries initiated a positive change by promoting climate-resistant cassava farming. Zambian Breweries employs a “seed to sip” approach, directly sourcing cassava from small-scale farmers and creating a sustainable value chain that supports the brewing of popular local beer brands such as Eagle Lager and Mosi Light.
Tawanda Hojane, Corporate Affairs Director at Zambian Breweries, emphasized the company’s commitment to local empowerment and sustainable partnerships. Through its support, Zambian Breweries has assisted over 6,000 small-scale farmers in Luapula Province, offering training and equipment through an out-grower scheme. The brewer’s annual Cassava Farmer Day reaffirms its dedication to the growth of small-scale farmers in the region.
Chate envisions a bright future for Luapula Province as a cassava hub, with plans to expand support to farming cooperatives in collaboration with Zambian Breweries. “Now we are looking to work with the company to support farming cooperatives so that they too can follow recommended practices, improve their yields, and make a living,” he stated.
The partnership between Luapula Province and Zambian Breweries showcases the impact of socially conscious initiatives in fostering sustainable agricultural practices and driving economic growth. By embracing cassava cultivation and its utilization, this collaboration stands as a testament to the potential of local empowerment to transform lives and communities.