Lungu calls for increased wheat production

PRESIDENT Edgar Lungu has challenged farmers in the country to grow more wheat and meet the national demand.

And National Milling Corporation (NMC) managing director David Bosse has thanked President Lungu for “a good business environment” in the country.

Commissioning the US$35 million NMC plant in Lusaka’s Lilayi area yesterday, President Lungu said his government would do its best to support all genuine investments in the country.

NMC is a subsidiary of America’s Seaboard Corporation.

The 600 metric tonnes per day wheat capacity plant will only start milling maize after one year.

The plant has also got capacity to take in all wheat harvested across the country.

“Wheat production has been increasing over the years and in the 2018/2019 farming season, wheat was one of the few crops which recorded increased production when compared to the previous season. Despite this improvement in wheat production, we still have not reached a level where we are comfortable to meet local demand,” he said.

“For businesses such as bakeries to survive, we still have to rely on wheat imports. This calls for increased wheat production locally, and increased local capacity to process, as this modern plant is doing. This is the only way that the supply and price of wheat flour can improve for businesses such as bakeries.”

On electricity challenges, President Lungu assured that his administration would do everything possible to mitigate the situation.

He implored NMC and other millers to include cassava among their raw materials.

“Wheat being an irrigated crop, our farmers are faced with a number of challenges to grow this crop. One notable challenge is the current power deficit and load shedding which we are currently facing. This is affecting wheat yields and profitability. Therefore, I wish to assure farmers that government will do everything possible to address the power challenges,” said President Lungu.

“Let me also take this opportunity to implore National Milling and other investors in the maize and wheat industry not to ignore cassava. Cassava is easy to grow and is Zambia’s second largest food crop. The crop is drought resistant, and has many industrial uses. Cassava is an important crop which can suppport my government’s strategy to uplift the welfare of our small-scale farmers. My government is now embarking on a programme to commercialise cassava industry in Zambia.”

And Bosse explained more about the modern milling plant.

“What you see is a state of the art facility capable of milling 600 metric tonnes of wheat per day. What you see here is a culmination of five years of hard work from a dedicated staff,” said Bosse.

US deputy chief of mission Martin Dale emphasised that private sector innovation and investment were key to unlocking economic growth.

“And as governments, our primary role is to create a stable regulatory policy and tax environment that allows the private sector to thrive and grow. With this $35 million investment in this ultra-modern plant, National Milling is doubling down on its 21-year commitment to Zambia to supply wheat, maize, baked goods, animal feed, and food distribution systems to the Zambian market,” said Dale.

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