FRA owes farmers K1bn
Published On September 30, 2014 » 1948 Views» By Davies M.M Chanda » Business, Stories
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. Simuusa

. Simuusa

By JAMES KUNDA? –
THE Food Reserve Agency (FRA) has so far procured close to one million tonnes of maize and owes farmers nearly K1 billion for this marketing season.
This is partly because the amounts of maize being mopped up from the market exceed the amount of money budgeted for the exercise.
Agriculture and Livestock minister Wylbur Simuusa assured yesterday that discussions with the ministry of Finance had reached an advanced stage and Government would soon fund FRA to clear the debt owed to farmers.
Mr Simuusa said in an interview that FRA had procured 957,000 tonnes of maize from July to date totaling K1.3 billion and the agency had so far paid off K300 million leaving a balance of K1billion still to be settled.
‘‘When FRA entered the maize buying exercise, it was not anticipated that the response from suppliers would be overwhelming, hence we budgeted for only 500,000 tonnes.
‘‘But now that there has been excess stock, Government has to find the money to buy the commodity and pay farmers promptly to avoid post-harvest losses,’’ he said.
Mr Simuusa said the crop marketing exercise was still in progress and FRA would only close it when purchases are maximised in view of the maize bumper harvest recorded in the previous farming season.
Meanwhile, Mr Simuusa said the Nitrogen Chemicals of Zambia (NCZ) has produced close to 94,000 tonnes of basal dressing fertiliser for delivery to farmers under the 2014/2015 Farmer Input Support Programme (FISP).
He said Government expected NCZ to complete production of the remaining 12,000 tonnes of the commodity soon, more so that 90 per cent of what had been produced was already delivered to the farmers.
‘‘For Urea, local suppliers have already completed the delivery of 50,000 tonnes of the commodity to the farmers and the remaining 50,000 tonnes from the Middle East will soon be in the country for onward delivery to framers,’’ he said.
Mr Simuusa said the delivery of subsidised seed to the farmers wasalso on schedule.

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