Zambia re-opens crop marketing season beyond deadline

Kasama Farmers threaten to withdraw their maize from FRA
Kasama Farmers threaten to withdraw their maize from FRA

Zambia has re-opened the crop marketing season beyond the 31 August deadline and wants more purchases for maize, soya beans, paddy rice, wheat, among others to guarantee the country’s food security.

The Food Reserve Agency-FRA had by 25 August this year mopped and bought over 133 million tons of maize, against the projected minimum of 170,000 metric tons, soya beans, 35,232.30 metric tons against a Minimum of 1,500 metric tons and paddy rice accounted for 89.84 metric tons against 1,000 metric tons from the small holder farmers.

The purchases, in which the agency paid the small holder farmers a staggering ZMW 529 million (US$79,350) for Maize, Soya beans and Rice was part of the crop purchasing programme,  FRA Executive Director,  Chola  Kafwabulula told state television-ZNBC.

A total 244,922 metric tons was bought for maize at K312 million with the maize valued at 881 million. Soya beans was the much sought after crop during the just ended but ere-opened crop marketing season in the history of the Agency,  recording K217 million Kwacha for 80,000 metric.

A total of K276, 000 was spent on purchasing 322 metric tons at a value of K2 million. Agriculture minister Reuben Mtolo, said the Government has extended   the crop marketing period after it closed at the end of August following overwhelming demand by the farmers to allow them to sell their various harvests to the agency.

The decision follows a directive by President Hakainde Hichilema during a recent cabinet meeting for the Ministry and the FRA to collaborate and reopen the market and procure more food grown in the countryside.

The food and store to safety to avert panic in the event of shortages caused by demand from neighbors and other factors-including post-harvest losses which have been honored. All farmers selling their crops to FRA would be paid promptly.

And the agriculture minister has disclosed plans to sign contracts with six selected suppliers to supply the farming inputs under the 2022/2023 farming season. The selected suppliers-who are directly connected to the production of fertilizer-are expected to start the distribution of the inputs to the farmers countrywide to avoid delays.

The Ministry of Agriculture  plans to use a number of different data systems available in the country to ensure that the clean up of the Fertiliser Input Support Program-FISP beneficiary list is undertaken expeditiously to avert losses to ‘ghost farmers’.

In a related development, the Zambia Compulsory Standards Agency -ZCSA- has refuted reports that some locally manufactured fertilizer has been rejected based on standards, says spokeswoman, Caroline Kalombe in a statement. Fertilizer remains a product subject to compulsory standards and is regulated by the Agency.

By implication, all manufacturers and importers of the commodity are required to comply with requirements of relevant compulsory standards.  The Agency plans to conduct periodic testing of the fertiliser produced and ensure continued compliance by all with requirements of relevant compulsory standards.