More problems with FRA’s maize buying

The Food Reserve Agency’s (FRA) maize buying experienced more glitches, as farmers in several parts of Zambia protested about high transport and packaging costs.

The dispute over the price of K60/50kg between FRA and ZNFU meanwhile continues.

Farmers interviewed by said they find it hard to reach satellite depots due to long distances. They said empty bags for packaging are expensive, further diluting the value of their grain.

“Farmers here are stuck with their crop. A single bag costs K3 and reaching the nearest satellite depot comes with another cost,” says David Mumba, of Kabompo district in North Western Province.

Farmers in rural Central, Eastern, Southern and Western Provinces agree. They called on the FRA to provide empty bags for packaging and asked it to use mobile depots to collect grain.

“FRA must reach out to us. We cannot afford the cost of packaging and transporting our maize,” said Margaret Chomba, a farmer of Serenje in Central Province.

FRA hopes to buy 500 000 tons of maize, 20 000 tons of soya bean and 2 100 tons of paddy rice from a reduced number of depots countrywide.

Meanwhile, the dispute over the price of maize remains unresolved, while calls on government to intervene are mounting.

Last week talks deadlocked and the FRA asked to refer some issues to its board before resuming negotiations.

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