Government has directed the Food Reserve Agency(FRA) to work out stringent measures aimed at revamping crop marketing operations.
Agriculture and Cooperatives Minister Ben Kapita said in Kabwe that government had presented a 13 point letter containing suggestions on how to improve crop marketing to FRA.
Addressing the Kabwe Press Club at the Lions Den on this year’s budgetary allocations to the agricultural sector last night, Mr. Kapita said government wasdetermined to address problems affecting the crop marketing agency.
He said he had instructed FRA through Board Chairman Costain Chilala to seriously consider among other things when the marketing season should start, setting up more mobile and statelite depots and avoiding middlemen so that the agency could deal directly with farmers.
Mr. Kapita who said government had allocated K205 billion in this year’s budget for the strategic food reserve to facilitate the buying of maize and other crops, bemoaned the existence of unscrupulous middlemen whom he said cheated small scale
farmers in their dealings.
The Minister told the audience which included Central province Permanent Secretary Denny Lumbama, MMD Provincial Vice Chairman Albert Chifita and other provincial and district party officials that this year’s allocation had increased by K65 billion from the K140 billion allocated last year.
Mr. Kapita however pointed out that although government had allocated over K1 trillion to agriculture, the budget would only produce results if properly managed.
He reiterated that he would take stern action on any officer who will be found selling fertilizer meant for the vulnerable but viable small scale farmers.
He said those selling fertilizer meant for the poor were retarding development, adding that they were also defeating the aim of creating household food security.
On irrigation, Mr. Kapita said his ministry had finalized the National Irrigation Plan and strategy to spearhead the development of the irrigation capacity for large, medium and small scale farmers.
He said modalities for implementing the Irrigation Development Fund were also being finalized by the Ministry and other stakeholders.