By Martin Mashekwa
GOVERNMENT has thanked the security and defence forces for their efforts in assisting to haul stocks of maize bought by the Food Reserve Agency (FRA) from various satellite depots to safer storage sheds.
Southern province minister, Cornelius Mweetwa says without the engagement of the security wings to assist in the transportation of maize from rural depots, most of the grain bought from farmers could have gone to waste if the task was left to local transporters only.
Government through a directive of Vice President Mutale Nalumango during a working visit in Zimba district in October, 2021 directed the defence and security wings to release a fleet of its vehicles to assist haul stocks of maize from FRA rural depots to safer sheds.
Mr. Mweetwa was speaking at the de-commission ceremony of the maize hauling exercise at Choonga FRA shed of Kalomo yesterday which was witnessed by various stakeholders including the disaster management and mitigation unit (DMMU) and security forces task force commander, Brigadier General, Salim Chanda from the Zambia Army.
“My office working in collaboration with FRA, DMMU and the defence and security agencies flagged off the maize haulage exercise in October, 2021 and began the undertaking on November 5, 2021. The local transporters have moved 70 percent of the total maize purchases of 1,814,559 by 50 kilo grammes bags of maize while the defences moved a 30 per cent out of this share in Kalomo, Kazungula and Choma districts. This therefore, means that if the security wings were not engaged in the haulage exercise, the 30 per cent of the maize would have gone to waste,” Mweetwa observed.
Mr. Mweetwa has since appealed to FRA to consider hauling the maize stocks stored at the Kalomo main slab storage sheds wrapped in tarpaulins to the Zambia National Service (ZNS) facilities in Monze to avert any possible wastage due to the experienced rain down pours this year.
The minister also says the FRA has so far paid K155,901,651.00 to farmers who supplied maize to the agency.
“I, therefore, urge the people of Southern province to continue to take advantage of the New Dawn government’s commitment to improve in the agriculture sector and make it economically viable and consider it as a business,” said Mr Mweetwa.