By Scoop Reporter
GOVERNMENT has released K1 billion to the Food Reserve Agency (FRA) for this crop marketing season.
Secretary to the Treasury Fredson Yamba has today announced the release of a cumulative K1 billion to ensure active participation of the FRA in the 2020 crop marketing season and facilitate attainment of national strategic food reserve requirements.
“This funding is a response to the guidance of the President 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.” Mr. Yamba said.
He says 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.
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 has recorded a total production of 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 percent. 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.
To assess the strategic grain reserve situation, President Edgar Lungu visited FRA depots in Lusaka, on April 29 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.