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National Food Reserve Agency needs K4 billion for silos rehabilitation

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National Food Reserve Agency (NFRA) has said it needs about K4 billion to fully rehabilitate all the maize silos at Kanengo in Lilongwe and smaller silos across the country.

In the aftermath of reports of maize rotting in the silos in 2013, the European Union (EU) funded renovations of four big silos which were handed over to the Malawi Government in December 2015.

However, it is understood that 28 silos, as well as other 10 smaller silos called clinics with a capacity of 1,200 metric tonnes each meant for short term storage, also need rehabilitation.

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The other targeted silos are in Bangula, Mzuzu, Luchenza, Mangochi and Limbe. These were built during the reign of former president the late Bingu wa Mutharika.

In a meeting with Parliamentary Committee on Commissions, Statutory Authorities and State Enterprises on Tuesday, NFRA Chief Executive Officer, Nasinuku Saukila, said most of NFRA’s silos let in a lot of water which leads to maize damage.

Saukila said this year’s repairs of the silos are being done by the agency itself and that there is room for expansion of the sites.

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“We need concerted efforts to ensure that the quality of our food infrastructure is good, which is the first step towards food security. The problem towards achieving this is monetary funds and it’s our hope that someone will pick the budget and do something about this rehabilitation programme,” he said.

NFRA plans to bring back the storage capacity of Kanengo silos to 140,000 metric tonnes, apart from working on the other silos across the country.

Saukila said NRFA is confident that they are on track and hopes to have the structures functional in the next 24 months.

He commended European Union (EU) for funding the consultancy services which assessed the money needed for rehabilitation of the silos and also Parliamentary Committee on Commissions Statutory Authorities and Estate Enterprises for their willingness to support the project.

Chairperson of the Committee, Lilian Patel, said, although NFRA is trying hard to achieve food security in the country, some government policies need to change so that the country achieves food security.

“The late president, Bingu wa Mutharika, was passionate about food security that is why he had these silos built. It is disheartening to realise that, five years down the line, the silos are not working. As a committee, we will make sure that funds are made available to get these silos fixed and working,” Patel said.

She further said this comes as a shock to them since, as a committee, they were not aware that the silos are not functional.

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