ZAMBIA – the Food Reserve Agency (FRA) is targeting to buy about 65,000 metric tonnes (2.6 million x 50 kg bags) of maize from farmers in the Muchinga according to Henry Sikazwe, the Province Minister.
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.
“I am impressed with the level we are moving at here in Nakonde and the province at large with regard to the number of maize bags that are being bought from our farmers,” he stated.
However, the Provincial Minister expressed concern over reports of some farmers allegedly selling maize to neighboring Tanzania, stressing that the illegal selling of maize outside the country should be discouraged at all costs.
He said FRA in collaboration with security wings should quickly intervene in any activities of smuggling maize into Tanzania.
“The news we got three weeks ago was that some people from Tanzania are buying maize. Let us sensitize our farmers to sell their maize to FRA because we are keeping food for them that they will need when circumstances arise,” said Mr Sikazwe.
Since 2004, Zambia has consistently cultivated more maize, the national staple food, than is consumed domestically. In addition, the government buys the majority of maize directly from farmers to keep them in national reserves to cushion the country against shortages.
FRA Standards and Quality Officer Robinson Nyambe said the response to selling maize to the agency has so far been remarkable from the local farmers adding that there have been no cases of farmers selling maize outside the country recently following that security wings and FRA have been on the ground to closely monitor the farmers.
He further disclosed that farmers who sold their maize to FRA since the agency started buying the commodity in the Nakonde district are already getting paid for their grain.
FRA has targeted to buy 2.6 million x 50 kg bags of white maize from farmers in Muchinga Province during the marketing season.