ZAMBIA – Zambia has partnered with the World Bank to undertake a US$32.8m cashew nut plantation initiative in the Easter Province of the South African country.
The Zambia Integrated Forest Landscape Project (ZIFLP) aims to provide support to rural farmers, as well as to allow them to better manage the resources of their landscapes.
The project’s focus is to reduce deforestation and unsustainable agricultural expansion, and enhances the benefits received from forestry and agriculture, in the quest to combat climate change.
Once fully operational, ZIFLP will transform the economic statuses of thousands of farmers in Eastern Province, just like in the main cashew nut farming region in Western Zambia.
According to reports by Lusaka Times, 15,000 farmers are earmarked to benefit from the ZIFLP initiative.
Cashew nut has been identified as a high value crop in the country that can earn the much-needed foreign exchange.
Globally, the cashew industry is producing around 2,463,000 metric tonnes of raw cashew, of which 48 percent or 1,188,000 metric tonnes is produced in Africa.
In Zambia, the current cashew nut production stands at 850 metric tonnes per year from an estimated 1,700,000 trees that produce 0.5kg of raw nuts per tree annually.
The President of Zambia, Edgar Lungu while officially launching the initiative highlighted that the cashew nut growing programme will be rolled out to all parts of the country in order to increase the number of beneficiaries.
The President explained that the project is also aimed at boosting crop diversification and changing the mindset of many local farmers, to grow different types of crops
“We are willing to buy more seedlings. We feel that Zambia can regain its position in this crop by encouraging farmers to grow cashew nuts,” he said.
The project also supports climate smart agriculture which will greatly help farmers improve their yields, to this end ZIFLP will also focus on forest conservation.
With Zambia prioritising cashew production to boost the agriculture sector, the government last year sourced US$55.42 million, out of which US$45 million is a loan from the African Development Bank, to revive the industry.
This loan will be paid over a period of 25 years with a grace period of five years at 0.06 percent as interest rate.
The project, being implemented for a period of five years in 10 districts of Western Province, involves all players in the cashew value chain to ensure sustainability.
The project aims to directly benefit 60,000 household beneficiaries, out of whom 30,000 will be rural women and 1,000 youths each, planting 1 ha of 100 trees.
All these efforts are aimed to enable Zambia join the list of world’s leading cashew producers which is currently dominated by Vietnam, India, Ivory Coast, Philippines and Benin.
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