Tuesday, June 18, 2024

FRA targets to buy 250,000 metric tonnes, far below recommended minimum national strategic reserves

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Amb. Emmanuel Mwamba, a former High Commissioner to South Africa and Zambia’s Ambassador to Ethiopia, has analyzed the announcement by the Food Reserve Agency (FRA) regarding the opening of the 2023/24 Crop Marketing Season and the purchase of designated agricultural commodities. In his analysis, he expressed concern over the timing of the marketing season and the amount of crops that the FRA intends to purchase.

Mwamba noted that the FRA’s decision to open the marketing season three months earlier than usual could be a response to the current national crisis, where the country has exported almost all its crops, including the national strategic reserves. He also raised concerns about the moisture content of the crops, which can affect their storage and lead to substantial losses.

“In Zambia, farmers use natural elements to dry maize and other crops, hence the delay in opening the Crop Marketing Season. Storing maize that has not reached the right moisture content attracts molds and diseases, which results in extremely high post-harvest losses,” Mwamba said.

Regarding the amount of crops that the FRA intends to purchase, Mwamba expressed disappointment that it falls far below the recommended minimum national strategic reserves. He emphasized the need for the FRA to invest in equipment and technologies to dry crops and enter the market at the earliest possible time to meet their targets and prevent unscrupulous buyers from taking advantage of small-scale farmers.

“To secure the strategic food reserves, we have always urged the Agency to take up the responsibility of drying the crops and invest in such equipment and technologies as required. We need to avoid a situation where unscrupulous buyers take advantage of our small-scale farmers,” Mwamba said.

Mwamba also raised questions about the pricing strategy that the FRA will use and emphasized the importance of price discovery in the market, where millers and grain traders are also present.

“I am aware that the floor price, set by the Minister of Agriculture, has not been announced yet. So what scenario price and factors has FRA used? And what’s the price they are buying the crops? The farmer needs to know,” Mwamba said.

Mwamba’s analysis highlights the need for the FRA to take a proactive approach to ensure that the country’s strategic food reserves are adequately maintained. It also emphasizes the importance of transparency and price discovery in the market to ensure that farmers receive fair prices for their crops.

6 COMMENTS

  1. They have a plan otherwise how are they going to fullfil the export contracts? Just wait. Maybe a Cayman Islands registered company will spring from nowhere and mop up all the maize while millers and grain traders are scratching their lower sides. They’ll make a killing as the rest of us get accustomed to feeding on GMOs

  2. Anything that comes from the previous regime must not be widely accepted as truth, those guys were buying maize at K60 per kg in 2014 farmers were in complete poverty as a result of that extortion. What kind of heartless people can do something like that? Then they were exporting the same maize through companies affiliated only to them denying farmers a chance to get export permits.

    No please you had your chance for 10 years, let us give a new govt a chance.

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    • Correction they were buying maize at K60 per 50 bag and price of breakfast mealie meal was around K120. They allowed milling companies to extort farmers by 100 percent.

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    • FRA announced that it would be buying a 50kg bag of maize at K160 for 2022 season. That price was an increment of K10 from 2021.

  3. and what did UPND promise farmers? Have you forgotten about the Paya Farmer mantra? Didn’t they promise paying farmers handsomely? Has anything improved? Is the price FRA offered last year anything to be happy about? Farmers’ protests on maize floor price effected increment by K20.
    Pot calling Kettle black.

  4. Recommendable that grz will be in the field by next month to secure the maize.
    Last season FRA could not buy most maize stock from farmers because they had insufficient funds. Farmers who managed to supply maize struggled to be paid. This discourages farmers to trust gfz offers, making them choose to sell on spot cash to “unscrupulous” briefcase buyers.

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