National Food Reserve Agency (NFRA) said the intermittent supply of fuel across the country has slowed its maize purchases from farmers.
NFRA Board Chairperson Dennis Kalekeni said the fuel hitches have come at a time the agency has increased the price for the commodity from K220 to K300 per kilogramme (kg).
“When farmers started harvesting, we had to wait for the maize to dry and that was the time as a country, we faced several challenges including the devaluation of Kwacha. When the time came for the farmers to start bringing the maize, they complained to us that Kwacha had lost some value. We took that issue to the government and I am glad to say that the government received the views with gratitude and revised the price.
What has now come as a hiccup is the shortage of fuel in many parts of the country and we are seeing few trucks coming to our depots. Otherwise maize procurement is in progress because the farmers are now happy with the prices,” he said.
Agriculture expert Leonard Chimwaza said NFRA was in the first place, not a good choice for the government to buy and aggregate maize across the country saying they do not have adequate structures spread across the country.
He said using NFRA added to the farmers, the burden of aggregating and transporting the maize to NFRA depots which he said eats into their profits.
“Rural farmers did not need fuel to aggregate and transport maize to Admarc because they are almost in every community. Now even the K300 price is not good enough if you factor in increased price and now shortage of fuel to aggregate and transport maize to NFRA depots,” he said.
Kalekeni said in an earlier interview that they wanted to buy 38,000 metric tons of maize using the K12 billion it got from the government. The Integrated Food Security Phase Classification analysis shows that up to 3.8 million people in at least 21 districts will be food insecure beginning in October.