By Chite Mtonga
THE Food Reserve Agency (FRA) should carry out extensive research on population growth and the country’s consumption rate before restricting the countrywide purchase of maize to 500, 000 metric tonnes yearly, Zambia National Farmers Union (ZNFU) president Jervis Zimba has advised.
Mr Zimba said FRA should consult stakeholders before restricting the countrywide purchase of maize to 500, 000 metric tonnes yearly, as failure to do so may eventually lead to a shortage of the grain in the country.
Mr Zimba said, “500, 000 metric tonnes of maize is enough for the country at the moment but the population is growing, so these figures need to be relooked at, FRA needs to engage the Central Statistical Office (CSO) and carry out research on the rate at which the population is increasing,
“FRA buys maize to ensure that even when there is a calamity in the country we have maize in reserves, so it is supposed to have details of the country’s population and the tonnage of maize needed in a particular year, therefore working with CSO will really be helpful,” he said.
Mr Zimba said that the FRA’s core mandate was to ensure the country’s food security and manage strategic national food reserves.
There was therefore need for FRA to gather reliable information before restricting itself to 500, 000 metric tonnes every year.
“If the decision is arrived at without prior research we may in the future have a shortage of maize in our reserves, because the population might have increased while the tonnage in the reserves would be stagnant,” he said.