President Edgar Lungu yesterday inspected the Food Reserve Agency (FRA) storage sheds in Lusaka’s industrial area. During the inspection, the President said Government will buy more than one million metric tonnes of Maize for strategic reserves during this year’s maize marketing season.
According to a statement released to the media by Statehouse, the President said the government wants to take advantage of this year’s bumper harvest to buy more maize as the weather patterns for next year cannot be predicted due to climate change. The President has since asked the Ministry of Finance to fund the FRA on time so that they start purchasing maize. “The Agency will buy maize starting with the areas that will meet the moisture content,” President said.
The President has further instructed the Agency to avail the Minister of Finance with a schedule on procurement of maize to enable the ministry to start processing payments.
And the President says the country is food secure. “Those who want me to declare hunger as a national disaster don’t mean well. Those are the same people who want me to completely lock down the country so that they can, in turn, blame me when the economy collapses. FRA has enough maize to feed the country including the people that have been affected by floods,” the President added.
At the same event, Minister of Finance Bwalya Ngandu assured the President that the Ministry of Finance will make funds available for the procurement of maize. And Minister of Agriculture Michael Katambo urged farmers not to sell all their Maize but conserve some for home consumption.
The FRA Executive Director Chola Kafwabulula said the Agency has so far given the Disaster Mitigation and Management Unit (DMMU)under the Office of the President 93 metric tonnes of Maize for food relief. He said the Agency has more stocks of Maize for relief food. The FRA Executive Director also asked the President to ensure that money for buying maize is released early.