Minister of Agriculture Mutolo Phiri has revealed that the government has dispatched 1.2 million empty grain bags for the purchase of maize under the Food Reserve Agency (FRA).
The Minister of Agriculture was responding to a question by Chinsali Member of Parliament Kalalwe Mukosa during question for oral answer standing order number 76.
The Chinsali lawmaker asked the government if it is aware that a lot of maize from farmers is going to waste at the Food Reserve Agency (FRA) depots in Chinsali Constituency and other depots countrywide due to a shortage of grain bags, and what urgent measures are being put to avert the loss of maize.
The Agriculture minister explained that government is fully aware of the shortage and that his ministry had engaged the Ministry of Finance to procure more grain bags to distribute to the farmers as well as mobilize funds to pay the farmers who have been supplying maize to the Food Reserve Agency.
Mr. Phiri noted that the Food Reserve Agency has since dispatched grain bags to all satellite depots across the country.
He added that the Agency will continue to buy maize up to 800,000 metric tonnes rather than the indicated target of 500,000 metric tonnes.
The Agriculture minister noted that the current price of K150 per 50-kilogram bag of maize will continue to be implemented.
He has encouraged farmers to continue taking their maize for sell to the FRA as they are still buying the commodity.
Meanwhile, the Food Reserve Agency (FRA) has procured an additional of 262,000 empty grain bags from the suppliers, and part of the consignment has been dispatched to Muchinga Province.
FRA Public Relations Coordinator John Chipandwe assured farmers in various satellite deports of Muchinga Province that the agency has dispatched 90 thousand empty grain bags and that more will be dispatched.
Mr Chipandwe said the Agency is aware of the erratic supply of empty grain bags in some satellite deports around the country and working hard to resolve the situation.
He told ZANIS in Lusaka today that the demand for empty grain bags has been as a result of the maize bumper harvest and pegged floor price which attracted farmers to sell their produce to the Agency.
“The Agency is aware of the situation of empty grain bags which is as a result of the bumper harvest and the attractive price being offered by FRA implying that most farmers have opted to sale to the Agency and also the fact that the Agency has continued to buy maize beyond its planned target which is a good thing as the move will guarantee national food security,” he noted.
Mr Chipandwe further assured the farmers not to panic as the Agency will deliver the empty grain bags on a daily basis.
“As the Agency continues receiving more empty grain bags from suppliers, it will continue dispatching to the Province for onward distribution to depots,” he said.
The Agency received reports of shortages of empty grain bags from some satellite depots across the country.