FRA grain buying hits snag as transporter abandons maize in NW

A transporter contracted by the Food Reserve Agency (FRA) has abandoned 150 tons of maize in North Western Province, triggering fears of grain going to waste.

Provincial Minister Richard Kapita told local media the transporter abandoned the maize because of the poor state of the road connecting the satellite depot where the grain was collected, to the Zambezi district. The sites are 100 kilometres apart.

Kapita said he received numerous complaints from traditional leaders about this, and said a further 3 500 bags of rice remain uncollected in the same area.

“This has a negative impact on the farmers because they have no alternative markets nearby,” Kapita said.

FRA started buying maize, rice and soya bean on August 1, but the process is slow because of the impasse with the Zambia National Farmers’ Union (ZNFU) over the agency’s offer of K60/50kg for maize.

The FRA hopes to buy 500 000 tons of maize, 20 000 tons of soya bean and 2 100 tons of paddy rice from 760 depots across the country. Last season there were 1 223 depots, a number the FRA said contributed to its escalating operational costs.

However, the reduced number of depots also makes it difficult for rural producers to ferry their maize to FRA purchasing outlets.

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