Colleagues, today I wish to share with you our Government’s concerted efforts to support the production and consumption of staple foods, particularly maize which accounts for a large share of income and expenditure for majority Zambians.
During 2013, the Food Reserve Agency (FRA) purchased a total 426, 248 metric tonnes of maize with the Northern Province being at 19%, followed by Eastern Province at 18%, Luapula, Muchinga and Southern Province at 13%, Central Province 9%, North Western Province 7%, Lusaka Province 4%, Copperbelt Province 3% and Western Province at 1% respectively.
You may wish to know that Our Government through the FRA paid out a total sum of K552, 122, 465 to farmers mostly in rural areas that supplied the maize. With this amount of money pumped into rural communities, rural people’s livelihood and food security improve greatly.
It is worth noting that in the 2013 marketing season, the FRA operated 1,160 satelite depots in 71 districts and thereby creating seasonal employment to over 5,551 local people of mostly youth. The total quantity of maize stocks countrywide as at 14th February 2014 is 554, 072 metric tonnes, out of which 551, 442 metric tonnes representing 99.5% of total national stocks. 2,630 metric tonnes representing 0.5% of total national stocks is under tarpaulin cover.
As you will recall, during the official opening of the 2nd Session of the 11th National Assembly, I did announce the intention of our Government to develop and secure storage facilities from the current capacity of 748, 500 metric tonnes to at least 2 million metric tonnes. I am pleased to inform you that the upgrade of 27 hard standing slabs on the Copperbelt, Eastern, Luapula, Muchinga and North Western provinces with a total storage of 117, 000 metric tonnes at a cost of K110 million will be complete by June 2014.
As can be clearly seen, our rural farmers have continued to feed the nation and thus stabilising food prices and also contributing to the decline in inflation. It is for this reason that our Government will continue to support the rural farmers as they contribute to improving our rural people’s livelihood and national food security. MCS – 20/02/14