Region turns to Zambia for maize

Meanwhile, President Mwanawasa has said the government has set aside ZMK400 billion (US$100 million) for the procurement of 6 million x 50kg bags of maize from farmers in various parts of the country.

Food Reserve Agency (FRA) Executive Director Anthony Mwanaumo said Zimbabwe, one of the countries in the region seeking Zambia’s maize, has paid US$19 million for 85,000 mt worth of maize.

Mwanaumo said the supply of maize to Zimbabwe is likely to increase to 100,000 mt by the end of the year.

He explained that various inquiries have been made by Namibia, Swaziland, Angola and other neighbouring countries for the supply of maize to meet the food deficit afflicting the region because of poor rains.

He said FRA has spent about ZMK200 billion (US$50 million) to procure 300,000 mt of maize from farmers in the country, representing 6 million x 50 kg.

It seeks to procure 30 million x 50kg bags of maize and surpass the 20 million x 50kg bags recorded in

1998 through increased production, spurred by subsidies to farmers in inputs and other incentives to make Zambia food self-sufficient.

“Our focus is to generate as much interest as possible in the farming community so that maize output should increase by 30 million bags (1.7 million x 50 kg bags) per harvesting season and beat the 20 million bags recorded in Zambia in 1997/1998 season,” said Mwanaumo.

And President Mwanawasa has disclosed that Zambia has mobilised ZMK400 billion (US$100 million) to procure all the 1.6 metric tonnes of maize harvested, but lying uncollected in various parts of the country. According to Mwanawasa, the government seeks to set a record of food adequacy and ensure poverty levels, currently estimated at 70 per cent by the Central Statistic Office, were reduced by 50 per cent by the year 2015.

“My administration has performed exemplary well in the agricultural sector. Our goal now is to avail FRA the ZMK400 billion needed to pay for the maize currently with farmers in various parts of the country,” he told a campaign rally ahead of the September 28 poll.

The government has extended the crop marketing programme from September 30 until the end of the year to ensure adequate crop was acquired from farmers and to increase the reserves in various depots (silos) to 300,000 mt.

Recently, Mwanaumo said FRA was considering reviewing upwards the floor price of maize to encourage a production boost of the staple.

The quasi-government agency seeks to increase the price to above ZMK40, 000 (US$10) per 50 kilogramme bag from the ZMK38, 000 (US$8) it offered for purchase of the same quantity.

The FRA envisaged that revising the floor price would ensure a fair selling platform for subsidised and non subsidised recipients of fertilizer, under the Fertilizer Support Programme (FSP) and would help farmers achieve a profit on their crops.

Besides purchasing maize, FRA has been mandated to procure 2,400 tonnes of cassava, 1,200 tonnes of rice, 1,200 tonnes of soya beans and 1,200 tonnes of groundnuts.

It seeks to collect more than 90 per cent of the grain harvested and export more than 300, 000 metric tonnes to Southern African and beyond.

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