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October 08, 2011

Zambia: exposed maize in national grain reserve soaked by rain

Zambia's Food Reserve Agency (FRA) has said about 46% of the 96, 596 tonnes of maize was soaked by rain on October in its depots in the country's Copperbelt province, but has said that the grain will not go to waste.

The FRA has so far bought maize worth more than K125 billion (1 US$ = 3737.5458 ZMK, 7 October 2011) from farmers on the Copperbelt since the maize buying exercise started in mid July this year.

Provincial marketing coordinator, Simon Phiri said that the maize would not rot because the rains did not persist and that it would dry out within three days of sunshine.

He said the FRA on the Copperbelt had moved 55% of the maize to the three holding depots in Chambishi, Kalulushi and Chingola which had good storage facilities.

Mr Phiri said his office was making efforts to procure more tarpaulin tents to cover the maize because the initial tents the province received had run out due to the huge amount of maize which was bought from the farmers. He said some of the maize was marooned in some areas because transporters were failing to collect it due to the dilapidated state of the roads.

“But we have worked out a special rate for transporters in order to encourage them to go to the areas where the roads are not good so that the maize can be brought to the depots,” he said.

Mr Phiri said the FRA had paid out about K83, 978, 900, 000 billion cash to the farmers in the province and would soon release money to liquidate the balance before the next farming season.

Meanwhile, the Zambia National Farmers Union (ZNFU) on the Copperbelt has appealed to FRA to put in place measures that will ensure that the maize harvest is secure.

Copperbelt region coordinator Mr Michael Zulu said it would be unfortunate to allow the bumper maize harvest which had been recorded in the country to go to waste because storage facilities had not been erected. He said the maize should not be allowed to go to waste because even some neighbouring countries were looking to Zambia for importation of surplus from the extra maize harvest.

“I have been to Kanyenda and Bwembelo depots in Mpongwe district, the maize there is soaked and the FRA has no dryers on the Copperbelt to help the maize dry out,” he said.

Times Of Zambia

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