By GIDEON NYENDWA
THE Food Reserve Agency (FRA) should come up with an alternative to mop-up the maize from farmers at their depots as they work at rectifying the challenges surrounding the procurement of standard grain bags before the grain goes to waste, Small-Scale Farmer Development Agency president Boyd Moobwe has said.
Mr Moobwe urged the FRA to provide ordinary grain bags and buy the maize since rains had already started. The FRA has announced that it was facing challenges of empty grain bags since the excess quantity to be procured after meeting the target of 500, 000 metric tonnes of Grade A white maize was not planned for.
FRA Public Relations Coordinator John Chipandwe said their grain bags were not ordinary bags but were unique bags that take a bit of time to manufacture because they are ultraviolet (UV) treated, nonslip, a quality which enables them not to slip or glide once stacked.
Mr Chipandwe said FRA grain bags were resistant to sun rays and that their lifespan was longer, making them suitable for long term storage of grain. He said the process of manufacturing grain bags was a bit longer hence the delay.
Mr. Moobwe however said FRA should use alternatives like buying the maize and storing it temporarily in ordinary bags and taking the maize to warehouses for safe keeping as they wait for their special bags to be ready. He said there would be no maize to package in the special bags once the crop goes to waste. “Of what use will those grain bags be if the maize goes to waste.
There will be no need for the bags so FRA should come up with a quick intervention because rains have already started,” he said. Mr Moobwe said farmers appreciate the challenge FRA was facing but that there was need to save the maize from damage as the agency works at providing standard grain bags.
On October 5, 2021, FRA issued a statement to assure farmers that it would buy all the maize that was delivered to its depots countrywide and that the purchases would be restricted to maize already delivered at depots and no new deliveries were going to be allowed. It said it was still committed to the maize purchases.