ZAMBIA – The Food Reserve Agency (FRA) has disclosed that it has paid out over K1, 920,876,160 (US$91M) to farmers that supplied 343,013 tonnes of Grade A white maize during the ongoing crop marketing season.

Speaking during an interview with the Money FM News, John Chipandwe, Agency Public Relations Coordinator stated that the over US$91M payments corresponds to the total quantity of maize purchased as of 25th September 2023.

Mr. Chipandwe explained that the crop quantity purchased so far is equivalent to 6,860,272 X 50kgs bags of white maize.

“Further, following the Agency’s decision to start paying cash on the spot to farmers that supply maize, a total of 1,796.20 Metric tonnes has been purchased. This is equivalent to 35,924 x 50kgs bags worth K10, 058,720.00,” Mr. Chipandwe stated.

He encouraged farmers who still have maize to deliver the stock to the nearest FRA depot and contribute to sustaining national food security.

Chipandwe said the marketing season was still in progress and farmers were, therefore, encouraged to continue supplying their crops to the agency and get paid immediately.

In May, FRA fixed its maize purchasing price for the 2023 Grain Marketing season at K280 per 50kg bag from last year’s K180, a whopping 55% increase.

 According to the agency, the move 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, 000MT and 1,000MT 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.

Recently, Henry Sikazwe, the Muchinga Province Minister announced that FRA targets to buy about 65,000 metric tonnes (2.6 million x 50 kg bags) of maize from farmers in the province.

Mr. Sikazwe spoke while checking on the Chozi and Mwenzo Satellite Depots in Nakonde district where he encouraged farmers to continue selling their maize to FRA to help the country remain food secure in case of any disaster.

He also expressed content at the rate at which farmers are selling their maize to FRA urging the body to ensure that it also continues paying the farmers on time in a bid to motivate them towards increasing their productivity.