Buy Quality Maize, FRA Chief Urges

THE Food Reserve Agency (FRA) has issued a directive to its depot clerks to only buy maize of an acceptable standard after weevil infested grain was discovered prepared for purchase in Kasama.
FRA executive director Chola Kafwabulula who is in the province to monitor the ongoing crop marketing exercise discovered grain delivered by farmers ready for purchase teeming with weevils.
Mr Kafwabulula said allowing infested maize into agency storage sheds would spell disaster as weevils were known to spread fast.
“What we are doing on behalf of Government is procuring maize for strategic reserves to ensure food security. But if we allow maize infested with weevils into our stockpiles, we are buying a problem that will spread to maize that is in good condition,” he said.
The FRA chief also lamented on the bad state of feeder roads across Northern Province which he said was likely to affect the 2014 crop marketing exercise.
He also said some of the FRA installations in the province had also been invaded by squatters posing a security risk.
The agency faced a challenge, particularly in rural areas where the road network was in bad state. This was attributed to transporters shunning FRA contracts because of routes that were difficult to navigate.
“We are looking at a situation where we have roads that have not been graded and which will become almost impassable should the rains start. Transporters would rather get contracts elsewhere where the work would be relatively easier.
“So we are trying by all means to get the maize to the safety of storage sheds before such an eventuality can occur,” he said.
The FRA had also been overwhelmed by the tonnage produced by farmers, most of whom had exceeded their targets.
The agency had bought in excess of 22,000 bags in some instances from the various satellite depots in Kasama that Mr Kafwabulula visited.
On the issues of squatters, the FRA chief said the agency would deal with the issue gradually by spearheading relocation plans.
As a way of securing its installations, the FRA was building a perimeter wall at its Kasama depot where some of the squatters would be fenced in to avoid new settlers and later relocated.

Source : The Times of Zambia

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