Food Reserve Agency, FRA buys 400,000 tonnes of maize

Fairtrade cotton farmers
Fairtrade cotton farmers

THE Food Reserve Agency (FRA) has purchased about 400, 000 tonnes of maize out of the targeted 500,000 tonnes for strategic reserves despite having extended the 2012/13 crop marketing season by one month.
Agriculture and Livestock Minister Robert Sichinga said in a statement that the 407, 113 tonnes of maize were purchased from 1,231 satellite depots across the country where farmers delivered their produce.
Mr Sichinga said the total value of the purchased grain stood at K529.25 million and K111 million or 20 per cent of the amount had already been paid to farmers, while the balance of K418.242 million awaited funding.
Initially, the marketing season should have come to an end on September 30, 2013 but was extended by one month.
“The FRA has transported or is in the process of doing so, all the grain from satellite depots to the holding depots, one in each district,” Mr Sichinga said.
He said the highest number of purchases was recorded in Northern Province which had contributed 78, I90 tonnes or 15.6 per cent with a purchase value of KIOI.65 million, while Western Province contributed the least with 5,003 tonnes or one per cent valued at K5 million.
Mr Sichinga said, observing that the maize marketing season commenced in earnest from July 10, 2013, Government acknowledges that the dateline within which to pay the farmers had been exceeded.
“Government is well aware that the delays are a source of legitimate concern for the farmers, hence this assurance to all stakeholders that we are working frantically to ensure that the flow of funds to clear the farmer accounts is accelerated and will be done so not later than October 31,” Mr Sichinga added.
On the 2013/14 farming season, Mr Sichinga said Nitrogen Chemicals of Zambia (NCZ) had produced 71,363 tonnes of basal dressing (compound-D) for delivery to farmers under Farmer Input Support Programme (FISP).
“Of the quantity produced, 45,644 tonnes (69.1 per cent) has already been dispatched to district centres and Government plans to complete the deliveries to these centres not later than mid-October,” Mr Sichinga said.
The minister noted that distribution of fertiliser within the respective districts, to the selected farming blocs and agricultural camps will commence after the beneficiary co-operatives had been re-assessed.
“We expect this process to be completed by the second week of October and it is planned that we complete the distribution of compound-D fertiliser and seed nationwide by October 31, 2013,” he said.