THE Food Reserve Agency (FRA) has bought nearly 50 per cent of the total maize it has projected to purchase from farmers, two weeks since it started the maize buying exercise.
Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock Permanent Secretary David Shamulenge said yesterday that FRA has to-date bought 231,298 metric tonnes of maize representing 46.3 per cent of the total 500,000 metric tonnes it has projected to purchase for national strategic food reserve.
Mr Shamulenge said in a statement yesterday that the projected purchase of 500,000 metric tonnes would be attained by September 15, this year.
“Thereafter, Government through FRA will mop up and purchase all the excess maize for both local and international market taking into consideration the maize deficit in the region,” he said.
Government reiterates its call to FRA to pay farmers within two weeks of receipt of maize and Minister of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries Given Lubinda has instructed provincial and district agriculture coordinators to monitor and ensure that farmers were paid promptly.
Mr Shamulenge said farmers needed not to worry that their maize would not be bought because Government would ensure that the whole crop was purchased by FRA, private sector and the international market.
Government is happy by the positive response of farmers to sell maize to FRA since the buying exercise started and especially after President Lungu increased the price from K70 to K75 per 50 kilogramme bag.
This, Mr Shamulenge said, has created positive competition among maize buyers offering more than K75 per 50 kg bag to the benefit of the farmer.
“Government wishes to assure farmers throughout the country that all the maize will be bought by FRA and the private sector given the conducive crop marketing environment it has created,” he said.
And SCORES of farmers in Pemba district, Southern Province have described as impressed the move by President Edgar Lungu to direct the Food Reserve Agency (FRA) to increase the purchasing price of maize.
The agency was buying a 50 kilogramme bag of maize at K75 from K70 for the 2014/2015 maize marketing season.
FRA targets buying 500,000 metric tonnes of maize grain for strategic reserves in the 2014/2015 marketing season.
Scores of farmers, who were found offloading and repackaging thousands of bags of maize at one of the depots in Chief Moyo’s areas, praised President Lungu for his directive to the agency.
The farmers, mostly women said the new price was beneficial as it would enable them to accumulate more profits compared to the previous marketing seasons.
Agness Siakoola was happy that FRA has started buying the maize and that she was among the first farmers to deliver the commodity to the depot.
“For me, it’s a very good price compared to previous years and I know from what I will sell, I will make a small profit,” she said.
Bernard Hamoonga said the sale of maize to FRA was more profitable than private-buyers who, in most cases, were exploiting farmers in rural areas.
Mr Hamoonga also commended the Government for delivering on time the D-Compound fertiliser to various districts.
More than 150,000 farmers across the province would access inputs under the Farmer Input Support Programme (FISP) during the 2015/2016 farming season.
Agriculture and Livestock Minister Given Lubinda recently flagged-off the distribution exercise for this year’s farming inputs countrywide at the Nitrogen Chemicals of Zambia (NCZ).
The FISP beneficiaries in the province were expected to receive an assortment of D-Compound and top dressing fertiliser with maize, groundnuts and sorghum seeds from Government.