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April 02, 2008

Zambia receives Chinese loan to construct grain silos

The Food Reserve Agency (FRA) of Zambia has received a concessional loan facility of US$ 11.6 million from the Chinese Government for the construction of grain storage facilities throughout the country. And the agency has signed a contract of $2 million with a Zimbabwean firm, Grain Marketing Board (GMB) for the rehabilitation of the Lusaka Province grain silos.

Speaking at the signing ceremony in Lusaka yesterday, FRA vice- chairperson, Charity Mwansa said the $ 11.6 million was for the construction of silos to add the capacity to 98,000 tonnes of covered storage space for grains across the country. Ms Mwansa said the country had currently 458 units of storage facilities whose total capacity was 2 million tonnes but only 1.1 million tonnes was serviceable.

“It is against this background that the FRA with support of the Zambian Government has been mobilising funds to implement a programme to construct and upgrade some of the storage facilities across the nation,” Ms Mwansa said.

Zambia has had good harvests in the last two farming seasons and the need for appropriate storage facilities had become more important as evidenced by the maize stored in various FRA depots across the country. Ms Mwansa said the rehabilitation of the Lusaka silos that would be undertaken by GMB was expected to be completed by September adding that the funds for upgrading these silos were from FRA’s own resources which was aimed at providing quality grain storage.

Agricultural and Co-operatives Permanent Secretary, Bernard Namachila said the issue of grain storage was paramount, as it prevented the rotting of grain that was stored. “It is gratifying to note that rehabilitation works will be done by GMB this is because Zambia and Zimbabwe share a cordial and warm relationship. The FRA should therefore work to ensure that the project is successfully implemented,” he said.

Mr Namachila said the disbursed funds to the FRA from the Chinese loan facility for construction of grain storages by CAMCO, a Chinese company demonstrated the importance that the Government attached to agriculture. He said it would be pointless for the Government to continue encouraging farmers to produce more food each year that would go to waste due to lack of proper storage facility hence getting a loan.

CAMCO chairperson, Li Tie assured the FRA that his company would construct standard grain silos to meet the high demand of storage facilities across Zambia.“We are here to build proper grain storage facilities according to FRA recommendations. I thank the Zambian Government for awarding CAMCO to carry out the construction of these facilities. This is because of the cordial relationship between the Chinese and Zambians,” Mr Tie said.

Times of Zambia

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