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FRA responds to grain bag shortage in East, N/West provinces

By DAVID CHISANGA and CHAPUNGA MANENGU
The Food Reserve Agency -FRA- has dispatched over 100,000 empty grain bags to satellite depots in Eastern and North-Western provinces to cushion shortage of the sacks.
Some satellite depots in the two provinces were reportedly lacking grain bags, following a sharp increase in farmers wanting to sell their white maize to the government agency as the 31 October deadline of buying the commodity was fast approaching.
But, FRA Public Relations Co-ordinator John Chipandwe disclosed that the agency had dispatched 70,000 sacks to Eastern Province and 50,000 sacks to North-Western Province to help matters.
“FRA wishes to assure farmers in some satellite depots of Eastern Province and other districts experiencing erratic supply of empty grain bags that it is aware of the situation and appropriate intervention measures were quickly put in place,” he told NAIS.
Mr Chipandwe cited engaging suppliers of empty grain bags as one of the quick interventions the agency was using to arrest the situation.
“The Agency wishes to inform farmers that it has engaged suppliers to supply [it] with 12 million additional empty grains bags, and suppliers have since started making deliveries on a daily basis. After which, the bags are dispatched immediately to needy depots,” he said.
Mr Chipandwe assured that more empty grain bags would be sent to affected satellite depots in the two provinces once FRA received them from suppliers.
“With the continuous delivery of bags…by suppliers, the Agency is assuring farmers that the situation will be back to normal as soon as possible,” he stressed.
The FRA Public Relations Co-ordinator attributed the shortage of grain bags in some satellite depots in Eastern and North-Western provinces to bumper harvest and attractive prices set by the government agency in the current crop marketing season.
“The Agency has observed that the situation is as a result of the bumper harvest and the attractive price being offered by FRA, implying that most farmers are opting to sale to the Agency, which is a good thing as this will guarantee food security for the country,” Mr Chipandwe explained.
Meanwhile, the farmers union in Solwezi district, one of the most affected areas in North-Western province, commended the government agency for dispatching 50,000 empty grain bags to the province.
Solwezi Farmers Union Association Chairperson Merian Kalala said adequate supply of the bags would lessen the risk of maize going to waste.
Mrs Kalala also echoed Mr Chipandwe’s sentiments on the prices the agency was buying maize and other commodities.
“Most farmers in the district opted to sell their maize to FRA because of the good price that the Agency is buying [the commodity] from [them],” she noted.
In the 2021/2022 crop marketing season, FRA has been buying a 50kg bag of white maize at K150; a 50kg bag of soya beans at K500; and a 40kg of paddy rice at K200.
In the previous season, the agency purchased a 50kg bag of white maize at K110; a 50kg bag of Soya Beans at K150; and a 40kg bag paddy rice at K70.-NAIS

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