By Bennie Mundando
STOP thinking that the Food Reserve Agency (FRA) will come to your rescue, once you run out of maize, Government has told millers who are reportedly reluctant to buy maize for their mills to last until the next crop marketing season.
Minister of Agriculture Michael Katambo says although Government is happy that a number of millers are active in the market and are buying maize for their own use until the next harvest, there are some millers that are reluctant to buy, hoping that they will access maize from FRA.
Mr. Katambo says millers must realise that the FRA is not a marketing wing of millers but exists to manage the national strategic food reserves, and the maize it holds in reserves is only meant to be released during periods where the country is experiencing shortfalls.
He has warned that Government will not entertain any opportunistic behavior from millers, as this will only result in market distortions which will affect the investment that has been made by genuine players in the industry.
He says the release of maize from the reserves is only acceptable when there is need for relief distribution and when the prices of maize and mealie meal are noticeably high.
“In view of this situation, Government wishes to strongly advise the millers that are reluctant to buy, to start buying; and to stop thinking that the food reserve agency will come to their rescue, once they run out of maize.
“Government would therefore like to caution all millers that are seeking to access maize from the food reserve agency, that you will not receive any support at the expense of the millers and grain traders that have invested their own money and are buying maize from farmers,” Mr. Katambo said.
He says it is the intention of Government to support all millers and traders that are genuinely stockpiling maize for their own requirements but insists the FRA is not a trading wing for millers.
“I, therefore, would like to end by advising all millers to be active in the market and to buy enough maize, whilst it is available. Let me also commend and encourage all millers and traders that are currently buying their own maize to continue doing likewise as this is always the right thing to do,” he said.