Govt releases K1bn to FRA for crop purchasing

THE government has released a cumulative K1bn to the Food Reserve Agency to enable it participate in the 2020 crop marketing season and attain national strategic food reserve requirements.

This is according to a statement by Ministry of Finance spokesperson Chileshe Kandeta this afternoon.

According to Kandeta, secretary to the treasury Fredson Yamba announced the release of the K1bn today.

He stated that during the 2019/20 agricultural season, Zambia experienced a favourable rain pattern to the delight of rain dependent small-scale farmers.

Despite the floods and sporadic fall army worm outbreaks in certain areas of Central, Eastern, Luapula, Northern and Southern provinces, the country recorded 3,387,469 metric tonnes of maize in the 2019/2020 season from 2,004,389 metric tonnes in the 2018/2019 season.

“This represents a production increase of 69 per cent. These figures were recently announced by the Minister of Agriculture. At the beginning of May 2020, the FRA had carry-over reserves standing at gross physical stocks of 82,982.02 metric tonnes of non-GMO white maize, 73 metric tonnes of soya beans and 3.64 metric tonnes of paddy rice – for consumption, relief, and emergency purposes,” he stated. “To assess the strategic grain reserve situation, The President of the Republic of Zambia, His Excellency, Dr Edgar Chagwa Lungu, visited Food Reserve Agency depots in Lusaka, on 29th April 2020. He then declared the immediate need for FRA to purchase 1,000,000 metric tonnes of maize to replenish the current strategic grain reserves.”

And Yamba said the funding was a response to President Lungu’s guidance and the crop purchase strategies of the Ministry of Agriculture through FRA.

“We join His Excellency the President in expressing sincere gratitude to our hardworking farmers for increasing crop production in the 2019/2020 season. For us, this is an important indication that the country will have sufficient stocks of food until the next harvest in 2021. We also join the Ministry of Agriculture in urging our small-scale farmers to reserve enough grains to see them through to the next harvest. Unless households are food secure, national food security will be compromised. This is why small- scale farmers should properly apportion their harvest between consumption and sell, where possible,” said Yamba.

According to the statement, FRA is expected to disburse the K1 billion funding to farmer paying financial institutions in various districts so that farmers who meet the necessary documentation and scrutiny requirements for the delivered crops, receive payments, accordingly.

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