Early FRA Funding Elates Farmers

THE quick disbursement of funds by the Food Reserve Agency (FRA) for this year’s crop marketing season has galvanized farmers in their thousands to sell their maize at its various satellite depots.

This is despite the fact that the FRA will have reached its purchase target of 500,000 tonnes of grain as directed by Government by today.

Farmers across Northern Province interviewed, that had no idea that the marketing season was near to being closed, said some of their colleagues were still harvesting and more maize should be expected from farmers.

Estella Kabwe from Lukulu South, found sorting her maize at a depot, said she earlier had no plans of selling her maize to the FRA but was encouraged after hearing of farmers from her area that delivered maize before her, boasting of having money in the bank.

“This is such a blessing from Government. I can now prepare for the next season and sort out some personal problems,” she said.

FRA executive director Chola Kafwabulula, who is in the Northern part of Zambia on a monitoring mission, after visiting some of the remotest satellite depots, said in an interview that the agency had written to Government on how the crop marketing exercise was progressing and had highlighted that the 500,000 tonnes target would be met mid this week.

The agency would now wait for Government to aise on whether the tonnage cap set for grain purchases would be adjusted upwards.

“Farmers in Northern and Luapula provinces have outdone themselves this year and wherever we have been in this province, has been characterised by mountains of grain being delivered and it has now become imperative that we accelerate crop movement,” he said.

To address challenges in storage, seven new silos to be dotted across the country will be built that will be equipped with state-of-the-art technology. Disused silos like the ones located in Ndola and Chisamba will also be rehabilitated to increase storage capacity.

It is anticipated that with the introduction of mechanized farming technology by small-scale farmers, favourable weather patterns and a sustained input support programme, grain harvests are set to triple in the coming years.

Mr Kwafubulula said it was also important to note that Zambian grain was not genetically engineered and as such was highly sought after.

“Our maize is exported as far as Sudan and Malaysia. These nations and others send their scientists to verify that our grain is non-GMO and this makes our produce the best in the region,” he said.

Source : The Times of Zambia

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