ZAMBIA – The Zambian Food Reserve Agency (FRA) has fixed its maize purchasing price for the 2023 Grain Marketing season at K280 per 50kg bag from last year’s K180, translating to a 55.5% jump according to Zambian BusinessTimes.

According to the agency, the move is intended to replenish the strategic grain reserves from a dynamic grain market obtained locally and in the region.

Kelvin Hambwezya, FRA Board Chairperson said that the agency targets to purchase maize to meet the minimum statutory strategic grain reserve threshold of 500, 000 mt and 1,000 mt of paddy rice.

Hambwezya added that during this year’s crop marketing season, the agency will operate a total of 1,200 satellite depots to provide market access to small-scale farmers.

According to him, this employment opportunity will result in the engagement of 4,800 seasonal buyers and security guards drawn from the local communities who are mainly youths and women, and over 10,000 jobs for various activities associated with the agency’s area of operation.

However, Hambwezya revealed that ZBT will not purchase soya beans because there is more than enough in the stock but could not state how much is in stock.

In March this year, the Zambian government took a step forward to cushion shortage of the corn grain and stabilize the price of mealie meals by promoting community sales under the Food Reserve Agency (FRA).

Later, the Ministry of Agriculture announced that it will no longer allow maize and mealie exports following the country’s maize and mealie meal shortage.

According to Hambwezya, the agency had a carryover stock of 652,000 metric tonnes of grade A white maize at the beginning of 2023, and over 400,000 metric tonnes have since been sold to local millers leaving only 248,772.35 metric tonnes of maize in the national strategic food reserve.

Therefore, Hambwezya noted that the agency arrived at the determined prices for 2023, since they acknowledged the urgent need to replenish the strategic grain reserves for the staples as a cushion for future shortages.

In addition, he said the agency has endeavored among other things to analyze the cost of production for the designated crops indicated above and therefore, prices announced are reflective of the cost of production and specific to what the agency will be offering.

Hambwezya also called upon other players in the sector to buy these crops as the prices announced are not floor prices but rather FRA prices under the principle of willing seller and willing buyer.

Hambwezya said the agency during the 2023 crop marketing season will make an early entry into the market to ensure that the national strategic food reserves are adequately replenished and farmers are protected from uncompetitive prices.

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