Â President Mwanawasa has directed the Food Reserve Agency (FRA) to start purchasing maizeÂ from farmers by next week .
And President Mwanawasa has expressed unhappiness at the pace at whichÂ FRA is
proceeding with the crop marketing exercise.
President MwanawasaÂ saidÂ the delays by the Agency to commerce the maize purchasing exercise has subjected farmers to exploitation by briefcase businessmen.
The President has since askedÂ Minister of Agriculture and Cooperatives, Ben Kapita
to ensure that the FRA starts purchasing maize byÂ next week.
Mr. MwanawasaÂ was speakingÂ at a public rally in Petauke , at Chief Nyanje headquarter grounds to drum up support for MMD candidate Fashion Phiri in the June 5
parliamentary Â bye- elections.
Mr. Mwanawasa regretted that unscrupulous traders have taken advantage of the delay
to obtain maize from desperate farmers at unreasonable cheap prices.
”I’m not happy with the slow pace at which the FRA is progressing with the issue .
I therefore want it to start buying the grain as soon as possible,” he said.
Mr MwanawasaÂ added that government wants to make the crop marketing exercise more efficientÂ hence the allocation of K205 billion for the exercise this season.
And President Mwanawasa has disclosed that government has negotiated for US$7
million from the Chinese government for theÂ rehabilitation of silos (food storage
facilities) in all parts of the country.
Mr Mwanawasa pointed out that the rehabilitation exercise for the silos which is
scheduled to commerce towards the end of this year is meant to improve the maize
grain storage in the country.
He said government is determined to implement programmes that focus on improving
performance in the agriculture sector and enhance overall national food security.
Meanwhile President Mwanawasa has disclosedÂ that government has approved K600
million for addressing the livestock diseases in affected areas.
The PresidentÂ said government has put in place deliberate measures to address
animal diseases such as the large grain borer , east coast fever, and lamp diseases
reported in someÂ parts of the country.
And President Mwanawasa hasÂ cautioned the people ofÂ Kapoche constituency not to
entertain politicians promising to give free fertilizers to farmers because such
promises are unattainable.
He wondered where such politicians would source funds from to implement such a
policy when government isÂ struggling to find resources for the 60 percent farming
input subsides given to farmers.
And in another development, President MwanawasaÂ says MMD is ready to work with
people from opposition political parties who areÂ willing to work with the government of the day in order to improve the country’s economy.
HeÂ said the ruling MMD is the only party that can provide quality leadership
required for national development.
Mr. Mwanawasa said this when he received 134 Forum for Democracy and Development
(FDD) membersÂ who defected to join the ruling MMD.
The PresidentÂ further advised the people of Petauke not to listen to liesÂ from opposition leaders.
Others contesting in the Kapoche bye-elections are FDD’s Charles Banda, Patrotic Front’s Mike Tembo, All People’s Congress Party’s Sara Zulu and Former Health
minister Levison Mumba who is standing on UNIP ticket.
The Kapoche seat fell vacant after the high court nullified the election of MMD’s