President Edgar Lungu has proposed the formation of a multidisciplinary taskforce to develop a strategy for promoting castor in the country.
President Lungu said yesterday in Serenje at the Zambia Castor Industry Multipurpose Cooperative Society that more work and research is needed to boost castor production in Zambia.
Mr. Lungu expressed confidence that castor has the potential to meet the country’s standards for crops such as maize, soya beans, and wheat.
The President said the growing of castor is in line with government’s policy of diversifying crop production.
“The promotion of castor production sits very well with my government’s goal of ensuring that the agriculture sector is diversified, climate resilient, export oriented and private sector driven,” Mr Lungu said.
The head of state however cautioned against repeating past mistakes made during the promotion of new crops.
President Lungu cited mistake such as limited investment in training of farmers on how to grow and market new crops.
Mr Lungu also enlisted lack of a sustainable strategy, which ensures regular income for farmers, as they await returns from the new crop as another challenge in the past.
He added that previous castor projects failed to take off, because of the lack of strategic partnerships.
“Therefore, partnerships with people experienced in Castor Bean production is critical in ensuring the success of this project,” Mr Lungu noted.
The President pledged his government’s total support to producers of the crop.
Mr Lungu advised the farmers to avoid shortcuts and ensure that the art of producing castor beans is not affected.
He thanked the traditional leadership in the area for supporting the project.
“I wish to express my gratitude to their royal highnesses, Chieftainess Serenje and Chief Kabamba for the support they have rendered to this castor project,” the President said.
Castor seeds are used as one of the chief ingredients in a wide variety of medicines in treating Rheumatism and Arthritis among other diseases.