Minister of Agriculture Michael Katambo has said the cashew project was capable of revamping the economic fortunes of Western province.
Mr. Katambo said government was determined to make funds available for the cashew project in order to enhance household income through improved production, processing and marketing.
The Minister noted that cashew farming has potential to also contribute towards the country’s food security, economic growth and poverty reduction.
He expressed happiness with the pace at which the cashew project is moving in Kalabo district.
He however urged farmers to adopt acceptable high standards of cashew varieties such as the recommended one from Tanzania which produces high yields.
Mr. Katambo said government will not allow farmers to plant unregulated cashew varieties obtained from unreliable sources.
The Minister was speaking at the Farmer Training Centre (FTC) in Kalabo district where he toured cashew projects in a bid to familiarize himself with the challenges being faced in the Cashew Infrastructure Development Project (CIDP) implementation phase.
And Zambia Agricultural Research Institute (ZARI) Officer-In-Charge Inyambo Mukela said his organisation has continued to offer technical expertise towards successful implementation of the cashew project.
Meanwhile, CIDP Technical Advisor Peter Masawe has urged the people of Western province to wholeheartedly embrace the cashew project.
Professor Masawe observed that the cashew project coincidentally succeeds in areas such as Western province where poverty levels are predominantly high.
He added that cashew is the only alternative cash crop the province should venture into.
He said the cashew project is an economic spinner capable of cushioning an economic meltdown by empowering farmers in areas of cashew value chain production, capacity building and project management.
Prof. Masawe however urged the CIDP implementers to adopt good nursery modalities and practices when raising cashew seedlings in a bid to guarantee high yields.
He further called for good management practices such as pruning and spraying against fungal diseases and pests if cashew trees are to be healthy and productive in terms of yields.
And Project Coordinator Charles Chileya has urged cashew farmers and entrepreneurs to apply for cashew matching grants under the Citizens Economic Empowerment Commission (CEEC).
Mr. Chileya said CEEC, in conjunction with CIDP, have allocated US$2million to finance entrepreneurs wishing to venture into nurseries, plantations, storage, processing and marketing of cashew value chain products and services.