State acts to avert maize shortage


GOVERNMENT has directed the Food Reserve Agency (FRA) to handle the sale of maize with caution to avoid diminishing the strategic reserves.

Zambia this year experienced dry spells leading to the wilting of maize in five districts in Southern and eight in Western province due to moisture deficit, with some parts of Central and Lusaka provinces expected to have lower yields.

Vice-President Inonge Wina has assured the nation that the Government has taken full control of the prevailing situation
As an interim measure whilst awaiting the results of the 2014 and 2015 in depth crop assessment impact of the dry spells experienced in 48 districts, Government has provided 50 tonnes of maize to each of the severely affected districts of Western and Southern provinces.

Ms Wina made the directive to FRA because the country was anticipating much lower yields than the previous years due to crop damage which was irreversible.

“The stock monitoring committee has been directed to be meeting regularly in order to provide updates on the levels of food stocks in the country, the FRA is hereby directed to handle the ongoing maize sales with caution to ensure that at no time should the strategic reserve be diminished,” Ms Wina said.

The affected districts in the South are, Gwembe, Zimba, Kazungula, Sinazongwe and Siavonga, while in Western they are, Kaoma, Luampa, Lukulu, Mitete, Mulobezi, Mwandi, Nkeyema and Sesheke and that eight had already received 1, 009 tonnes of maize.
Ms Wina called on all opposition parties, Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) religious leaders and other stakeholders to work with Government in ensuring that plans that had been put in place are implemented successfully.

She assured the nation that Government was fully aware of the prevailing situation and would continue chairing emergency meetings with selected Ministries including, Finance, Transport, Communications, Agriculture, Local Government and Housing and Energy and Water Development in order to be ready with distribution once needed.

“The severely affected areas are in Western and Southern where all districts, some parts of Central and Lusaka Provinces, the crops are severely stressed particularly in Eastern Province due to late planting, Northern received normal rainfall with maize being fair,” She said.

Ms Wina further directed stakeholders to ensure that appropriate measures were put in place to mitigate the situation and sensitise the public on water rationing, while the early warning technical committee comprising agriculture, hydro-met and health should also be meeting regularly and provide adequate updates.
Deputy Minister in the Office of the Vice-President Steven Kampyongo said that the country is not experiencing any disaster but that some provinces would experience hunger.-Times of Zambia