THE Food Reserve Agency (FRA) has targeted to buy 500,000 tonnes of white maize starting next week on Monday at a cost of K 70 per 50 kilogramme bag during this marketing season.
The FRA would further buy 2,100 tonnes of paddy rice at K60, 000 per 40 kilogramme bag and emphasized the need for farmers to ensure their grain met the internationally acceptable standards.
FRA executive director Chola Kafwabulula said a total of K700 million would be spent to purchase the 500,000 tonnes and was expected to create more than 6,000 direct seasonal jobs mostly for youths and the local communities.
” In view of the attainment of the recommended 12.5 per cent moisture content for maize grain, the FRA will enter the market by Monday, August 17, 2015, FRA is targeting to buy 500,000 MTof maize and 2,100 of rice, the buying period will go up to October month end,” Mr Kafwabulula said.
Mr Kafwabulula said the Agency would only buy the authorized quantity of crop for strategic reserves and expected the private sector to play an important role effectively by buying a good share of the marketable surplus crop from farmers.
Mr Kafwabulula said at a press briefing yesterday that the delay to commence the process of buying maize from farmers had been hampered by the moisture levels which were above 12.5 percent caused by the sudden late rains and low temperatures recorded in past weeks.
He said countrywide recruitment and training of personnel to undertake the exercise had already been conducted while 17,577,171 empty grain bags, 33,761 bailing, 10,825 black polythene sheets, 3,251 platform scales and 4,136 grain services had been made available for the smooth and uninterrupted season.
Mr Kafwabulula said significant purchases were expected in Northern regions of Luapula, Muchinga and the North Western where private sector participation was minimal due to challenges on terrains and inadequate support infrastructure.
“The Agency’s vision through its storage investment plan is to attain 2,118,000 MT of secure storage by the year 2018, the crop destruction of this year stands at four per cent compared to 16 per cent last year while in 2013 it was at 19 per cent,” he said.