Efforts by Zambia’s state-owned grain buying entity, the Food Reserve Agency (FRA), to protect its maize from rain damage, are floundering.
This while FRA Executive Director Chola Kafwabulula made a desperate plea to transporters to resume ferrying maize still stuck at satellite depots. It is the second time transporters are boycotting ferrying maize. They demand payment of K180 million still owed to them.
“I’m appealing to transporters to help us get this maize to safety. Payment will be made as early as next week,” he said.
The crop marketing season ended on October 31, 2017, with the FRA buying more than the targeted 500 000 tons for national strategic reserves. The agency was also ordered to keep buying from farmers who depend on the agency as their main buyer.
Ferrying the grain to warehouses located in provincial centres ground to halt a few weeks back, following transporters’ boycott over money owed to them. However, ferrying the grain to secure warehouses was hampered by the boycott, as well as roads which are becoming increasingly impassable as the rain set in.
Meanwhile, larger grain borers continue to wreak havoc among grain buyers. The FRA says the borers that first surfaced in Muchinga and Eastern Provinces, still pose a threat.
“We need to work with private grain buyers to contain this threat,” Kafwabulula said. A fortnight ago, government banned the movement of grain in the affected provinces in an effort to halt the spread of the pest.
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