Agriculture Minister Reuben Mtolo has announced that the Government has stopped supplying maize through the Food Reserve Agency – FRA to traders but will instead limit the supply of the commodity to millers in order to control the rise in the price of mealie meal.
Addressing the media in Lusaka this morning, the Agriculture Minister Reuben Mtolo stated that this is because of the current pressure on the limited stocks of maize in the country, adding that FRA will now concentrate on supplying maize to millers who will in turn sell to the traders.
“At the moment, FRA is distributing 250,000 metric tonnes of maize to all millers countrywide,” Mr Mtolo mentioned
Mr Mtolo said that despite the foregoing, the private sector still remains free to export maize and its products sourced from elsewhere other than the FRA.
He added that the Ministry is working with Law Enforcement Agencies to ensure that the export of mealie meal at borders is done in a legitimate manner.
The Minister noted that in view of the foregoing, government will closely monitor retail prices among the millers receiving maize grain from FRA to ensure that all the millers sale the product at the recommended price and any miller found arbitrarily increasing the price of mealie meal will cause government to restrain supply of the commodity.
Mr Mtolo has since assured the nation that Zambia has enough maize stocks to last up to the next harvest, adding that the country is headed for a bumper harvest because the rains are good and the distribution of farming inputs is almost complete.
Meanwhile, Mr Mtoolo disclosed that about 124,000 hectares of maize and wheat in all the 10 provinces has been affected by the army worms, and to combat the fall army worms that have invaded these hectares of agricultural land, the government has released about 55 million Kwacha towards the procurement of chemicals.
“The destruction represents 11 percent of the crop,” he noted
He further disclosed that the release of 55 million Kwacha by the treasury has helped in the acquisition of 99,000 liters of different types of chemicals which has so far been distributed to farmers for free.
Mr Mtolo cited that the whole purpose of distributing different types of chemicals to the farmers periodically changing the type of chemicals to be spread is to avoid buildup pests’ resilience.
“Every province has so far received and are still receiving the chemicals to combat the widespread of armyworms,” he said
He has since advised all the farmers to immediately report to the agriculture officers in order to access the free chemicals that are being provided for by the government through his Ministry.
And Mr Mtolo has also disclosed that overall the government has distributed 96 percent of farming inputs across all the provinces as of yesterday.
“The overall performance in terms of FISP shows that a lot of progress has been met and the targets are also being met, for instance of the total allocation of 153, 665.10 metric tonnes of D compound Fertilizer, the entire quantity of this fertilizer type has been distributed across the country, we concentrated on the distribution of Compound D fertilizer as it is needed first in the field, where some use it as they plant, while others wait for the plants to have a few leaves then they apply it,” he said
The Agriculture Minister revealed that so far, the countrywide distribution of Compound D fertilizer has been completed while Urea of the total 153, 665.1 metric tonnes, a 140, 006 metric tonnes has been delivered which represents 92 percent distribution of Urea.
Mr Mtolo disclosed that of the 1,024,434 targeted farmers, a total of 1,016, 998 farmers have deposited their contribution resulting in total deposits made of about 406 million Kwacha which translates into 99.27 percent of farmers having made their deposits.
“When I say farmers have deposited, it means they have paid the 400 Kwacha which is the contribution amount to be given the inputs that costs about 9000 Kwacha hence, farmers are only required to pay a sum of 400 Kwacha,” Mr Mtolo explained