Private maize traders invade Central Province


PRIVATE maize traders have invaded Serenje and Chitambo in Central Province, where some of them are buying maize at prices as low as K48 per 50 kilogramme bag.
The maize buyers, who have also gone to Mumbwa and other districts in the province, are mainly targeting areas where there are no Food Reserve Agency (FRA) satellite depots and are paying farmers instantly.
Central Province permanent secretary Edwidge Mutale, who visited Serenje and Chitambo on Monday, was informed by Serenje district commissioner Charles Mwelwa that some private maize dealers are buying maize at K48 per 50 kilogramme bag.
Mrs Mutale said FRA should quickly buy maize from farmers because apart from local maize buyers, traders from Tanzania have also entered Central Province and are buying the commodity.
“I don’t think that in Mumbwa we will be able to reach the target because maize has already been bought by private traders,” Mrs Mutale said.
Mrs Mutale said there is high demand for maize in countries such as Kenya and Democratic Republic of Congo and urged FRA to establish more satellite depots in areas like Serenje and Chitambo so that the agency can quickly purchase maize from farmers before private traders do so.
She told Serenje FRA marketing assistant Zacchaeus Menda that the agency should focus on buying excess maize to cover the deficit that maybe recorded in districts where private traders started buying the commodity before the crop marketing season commenced.
Mrs Mutale said some neighbouring countries are looking up to Zambia for maize as they do not have enough maize due to army worm attacks, drought and poor rainfall.
Earlier, Mr Menda informed the permanent secretary that FRA is this marketing season expected to buy 160,380 x 50 kilogramme bags of maize in Serenje and Chitambo.
Mr Menda said as of Monday, FRA in both districts had purchased 90,000 tonnes of maize.
He said FRA has targeted areas like Muchinka, Kaseba, Mbaswa and Muswema, where there is a lot of maize.
And Mr Mwelwa said farmers are attracted to sell their maize at K48 per 50 kilogramme bag to private traders because they are being paid upon delivering the commodity.