By JULIUS PHIRI -
THE Government has purchased 2,000 solar-powered milling machines under the Presidential Solar Milling Plant Initiative.
Eastern Province Permanent Secretary Chanda Kasolo said during the training of solar milling plant operators in Chipata yesterday that in Eastern Province, a total of 358 solar plants were allocated, which were now dotted around the province.
He said through assistant secretary Royd Tembo that the programme started in December 2015 and so far 100 solar milling plants had been commissioned in five districts of the province, which included Chadiza, Lundazi, Katete, Vubwi and Chipata.
Mr Kasolo said the implementation of the Presidential Solar Milling Plant programme was being spearheaded by the Zambia Cooperative Federation (ZCF), which was the apex board of the cooperative movement in Zambia.
He said the intended beneficiaries of the initiative were primary cooperative societies which would contribute in value-addition to the staple food of the nation.
“It is the first of its kind to ultimately reduce the cost of processing the staple food and significantly reduce the cost of mealie meal. This initiative will also contribute to the reduction of malnutrition and improve economic stability of the rural communities,” Mr Kasolo said.
He said the centres would be transformed into economic zones where the machines were being installed and provide employment at local level.
Mr Kasolo said ZCF had set up provincial training and service centres in order to ensure sustainability and maintenance of the equipment.
“The training programme targets youths in different provinces to undergo training on how to operate the solar hammer mills. The continuity of the solar milling plants largely depends on you who are being trained today,” he said.