And more than 200,000 bags of maize, which were bought from farmers during the last two crop marketing seasons have been marooned at the depot because of bad storage facilities and a poor road network which makes the area inaccessible.
Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Livestock Luxon Kazabu and Kalomo District Commissioner Omar Munsanje confirmed the development in separate interviews in Lusaka yesterday.Mr Kazabu, who recently toured the province, learnt that trucks could not reach Nkandazovu depot to pick the maize due to the poor state of road.
“I learnt from the people who founded the satellite depot that the road is impassible and no truck could reach the area to ferry the maize from there. From what I have seen, there is no road there,” he said.
He said the office of District Commissioner, FRA officers and local farmers have agreed to relocate the depot to a place which will be more accessible, instead of closing it completely.Mr Kazabu, however, said even if the depot is relocated and the ferrying of maize is not done before the onset of the rainy season, the area will still become impassible.
And Mr Munsanje said the maize went bad because there was no proper slab where the bags could be stacked and stored.
“There is no slab at Nkandazovu satellite depot. They just put logs on the ground and stack bags of maize on them, so, moisture from the ground reached the maize and seven layers of bags of maize from the bottom were destroyed,” he said.
He said apart from the moisture from the ground, the bags of maize were also destroyed by intense heat from the sun as tarpaulins used to cover them wore out.
Mr Munsanje said the establishment of the satellite depot was not properly thought out because the area had a lot of difficulties in terms of accessibility.
Meanwhile, Mr Munsanje said as of August 24 this year, 213, 000 x 50 bags of maize were bought from the farmers during 2011-2012 maize crop marketing season.He said the district has devised a mechanism to ensure that all the maize bought from farmers is ferried to safe storage on time, to avoid wastage.
Meanwhile, the FRA Copperbelt Province Coordinator Timothy Chanda said the agency has paid K9 billion out of the K37.57 billion it owes farmers on the Copperbelt for the maize bought during this marketing season.Mr Chanda said the agency has bought 578,000x 50 kilogramme bags of maize worth K37.57 billion from farmers on the Copperbelt.
[Zambia Daily Mail]