By Andrew Mukoma
THE FOOD Reserve Agency (FRA) in Livingstone has only managed to buy a storeroom to cater for 324.65 metric tons of maize out of the target of 21,450 metric tonnes in Southern Province at the close of the maize marketing season on October, 31, 2018.
FRA region ‘B’ Marketing Manager Stephen Liato said the agency failed to meet the target maize purchases in Monze, Mazabuka, Pemba, Namwala, and Gwembe districts since the maize buying exercise started in July 2018.
Mr. Liato said that in terms of payments to the farmers, the agency has paid out a total of K173, 640 with a balance of K1, 667, 990 million yet to be paid to farmers who sold the commodity in the entire region.
He has hoverer, said more funds are expected next week to pay the outstanding balance to farmers who sold their white maize to the agency.
“We failed to meet the set target of 21,450 metric tonnes for region B which comprises of Monze, Mazabuka, Gwembe, Namwala, and Pemba districts and at the close of the Maize marketing season and we only managed to purchase a meagre 324.65 metric tonnes of the commodity from all the five districts,” said Mr. Liato.
“The agency has also paid out a K173, 640 to farmers who supplied maize to the agency with a balance of K1, 667,990 million yet to be paid to farmers who sold the commodity in the entire region,” he added. Mr. Liato cited poor maize harvest following erratic rains received in most parts of the five districts and also competitive prices offered by other maize buyers.
And a check by the Daily Nation at the Namwala main depot confirms that the district performed poorly in the production of maize in the2017/2018 farming season as most of the space in the storeroom was not occupied.
Some of the depot clerks talked to said that despite the poor rainfall pattern, some farmers were not ready to sale their maize to FRA as it was witnessed during the buying period.