Editor's Comment

Let no maize go to waste

THE Food Reserve Agency has announced that it expects to meet its target of buying 500,000 tonnes of maize for strategic reserves this month.
Chief executive officer Chola Kafwabulula says there is still a lot of maize in the country which should be moved to safe storage depots.
Our fear, however, is that the poor condition of feeder roads in most rural districts may hamper the movement of the maize to safety before the onset of rain.
When the agency closes it’s purchasing of the grain, many farmers may be stuck with their produce with nowhere else to sell it.
It is difficult for rural farmers to transport their maize to milling companies.
It will be sad if there will be reports of maize going to waste because of the lack of a market and poor storage.
Zambia can no longer afford to allow food to rot when many countries in southern Africa are grappling with serious deficits.
It has been painful and discouraging to watch the FRA burn tonnes of rotten maize almost each year.
No maize should be allowed to rot this time around.
We are happy that FRA is working hard to ensure that all the harvest it will have bought is transported to storage sheds to avoid waste.
It is heartening to hear from Mr Kafwabulula that all the new storage sheds under construction in Muchinga, Luapula, Eastern, Northern and North-Western provinces will soon be completed.
He said FRA has already completed the construction of three storage sheds on the Copperbelt with the capacity of 20,000 metric tonnes.
We hope this time around the nation will not hear reports of weevils and rain destroying unsecured maize after the government has spent huge sums of money to buy it.
All those tasked to ensure that the maize is secured should rise to the occasion and do their best.
All the maize bought by the FRA should be hauled to storage depots and protected from pests.
In the rural areas we suggest that FRA collaborate with local authorities and the Rural Roads Unit to work on feeder roads to ease transportation.
The farmers have played their part by producing a bumper harvest.
It is up to the other players in the sector to do their part.
We are happy to learn that farmers who are selling their maize to FRA are being paid on time, in four to five days after delivery.
This is an achievement because in the past selling maize to the agency has been a nightmare for the farmers countrywide because of delayed payments.
They have been forced to spend nights in the cold outside commercial banks and government offices waiting to be paid for their maize.
In the past some farmers have been paid four or five months after delivering their maize.
Some of them have had their money stolen by unscrupulous depot managers and clerks.
No such thefts should be tolerated.
FRA should closely scrutinise all the payments to ensure no one is paid for the maize they did not deliver as has been the case in the past.
All the records of deliveries and payments must be subjected to close inspection by inspectors and auditors.
We are impressed with the speed with which the farmers are being paid for the maize they are selling to FRA.
The private sector is also actively participating in the maize marketing season.
Some farmers have been selling their maize to millers and middlemen because they have a choice.
What is important is ensuring that the farmers do not labour in vain.
The fruits of their labour must be secured.

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