THE Food Reserve Agency (FRA) has been allowed to sell a million tonnes of maize at a reduced price to ensure that excess maize does not go to waste.
Minister of Agriculture and Livestock Emmanuel Chenda said the excess maize was accumulated over the last three years when the country experienced successive bumper harvests.
“As you may be aware, the country has had three successive bumper harvests starting from the 2008/09 season. Over the years, the capacity of the FRA to secure markets for the huge maize surplus has been over-stretched,” he said.
He said due to the urgency of the situation, Government has allowed the FRA to sell 1,067,000 tonnes of maize at a much reduced price of from US$170 to US$180 per metric tonne to a range of US$135 to US$170 per metric tonne depending on the location of the maize.
“At this lower price range being recommended now, Zambian maize will be competitive within the SADC and COMESA regions. The southern African regional commodity exchange (SAFEX) is currently quoting maize at a range of US$296.64 to US$298.51 per metric tonne,” Mr Chenda said.
He said as at October 14, 2011, the total maize stocks under the custody of the FRA were 1,927,912 tonnes valued at K2.506 trillion.
Mr Chenda said the FRA also has 300,000 metric tonnes already secured as strategic food reserves by the FRA, which are sufficient for national consumption needs for three months at a monthly rate of 80,000 tonnes including provisions for unforeseen demands.
Zambia consumes about 960,000 metric tonnes of maize per year.
He said to ensure that maize does not go to waste, Government transported the commodity to secured storage facilities, and where this has not been possible, to cover all the remaining maize to secure it from the imminent rains in most rural depots with unsuitable storage facilities.
“Government has further partitioned the market for the surplus maize into four segments, each with a competitive price, that can be relied upon to quickly boost the demand for the commodity,” Mr Chenda said.
He said localised community sales in most districts have been allocated the most grain with 10,000 tonnes while exporters, mostly grain traders, will get 600,000 metric tonnes.
“The category of millers, stock-feed manufacturers and other processors has been allocated 432,000 tonnes while the disaster management and mitigation unit has been given up to 25,000 tonnes,” he said.
[Zambia Daily Mail]