THE Food Reserve Agency (FRA) has announced 474,170 metric tonnes maize, translating to 9.3 million bags of maize valued at K711 million, has been bought within a month in the country.
FRA Executive Director Chola Kafwabulula announced in the District Commissioner’s office in Chipata on Wednesday that of this Northern Province had the highest tonnage with 94,818 metric tonnes while Western Province was at the bottom with 7,000 metric tonnes.
He said out of the total amount owed to farmers, FRA disbursed K96 million to various districts.
“Let me take this opportunity to announce the latest crop purchase for the whole country, we have so far purchased 474,170 metric tonnes of maize valued at K711 million,” he said.
Mr Kafwabulula said the ministry of finance was expected to release about K300 million to pay the farmers who were still owed the money.
He said FRA had the huge mandate to run the marketing season adding that stringent measures have been put in place to ensure that it minimised on what transpired in the last marketing season where the agency encountered a lot of challenges with the payment of farmers.
He said in Eastern Province, the FRA has managed to buy 75,000 metric tonnes of maize from the farmers.
He said Eastern Province, Petauke had the highest purchase of maize.
Mr Kafwabulula said a lot of purchases were expected to be conducted before the closure of the crop marketing season.
He said the expectation of the FRA was to ensure that all farmers were paid within two weeks after sell of maize.
He also said the agency had in the last two years reduced the wastage of maize to one percent.
Mr Kafwabulula said the reduction in the wastage of maize because of the investment plans which the agency had embarked on in the country.
“The FRA has in the last two years reduced the wastage of maize by one percent and we have worked on the mechanism to ensure that the commodity does not go to waste,” he said.
He said currently FRA through the investment plans would construct 98 sheds with the capacity of 5,000 metric tonnes of which 18 would be constructed in Eastern Province.
Mr Kafwabulula said 18 sheds at cost of US$ 13 million would be constructed in Sinda, Nyimba, Chadiza, Lundazi, Mambwe, Vubwi, Chipata, Katete and Petauke districts.
And Chipata District Commissioner Kalunga Zulu commended the agency for reducing the wastage of maize.
He said FRA deserve a part for reducing the wastage of maize to one percent saying previous Government had been wasting the commodity through wastage.
Mr Zulu said he would be glad to see the FRA continues paying the farmers in order to avoid what happened in the last marketing season.