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National Food Reserve Agency to stock Zambia maize

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The government has authorised Agricultural Development and Marketing Corporation (Admarc) to sell the maize it bought from Zambia to the National Food Reserve Agency (NFRA), Treasury has confirmed.

Reports indicate that this is one of the ways in which Admarc intends to repay part of the $34.5 million (K26 billion) loan it obtained from the Eastern and Southern Africa Trade and Development (PTA) Bank for the procurement of the maize.

Ministry of Finance, Economic Planning and Development spokesperson, Alfred Kutengule, confirmed Wednesday that following the proposal that the grain trader made, the government has given its approval.

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Kutengule said the intention is to sell 50 percent of the 4,411 metric tonnes of maize that Admarc imported from Zambia.

“Yes, there have been discussions between the Treasury and Admarc. And currently the government has agreed that Admarc should go ahead with the plan. The maize will be sold at a breakeven of K250 per kilogramme.

He said the other 50 percent will be exported.

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Admarc Public Relations Officer, Agnes Ndovi, said the grain trader is yet to get an official communication from Treasury.

“We have not received any official communication to that effect as of now, therefore until we do, we are not in a position to comment further on the issue,” she said.

Parliamentary Committee on Agriculture Chairperson, Joseph Chidanti Malunga, has said Treasury should not accept the proposal and let Admarc find markets outside the government.

“This will be unfortunate. Admarc created this mess, now they are asking taxpayers to pay for the mess. Why should the government bail out an irrelevant institution? We used taxpayers’ money to buy it. We can’t ask the same taxpayer to buy it back. We are being unfair to the taxpayer,” he said

Currently, the maize is in Admarc warehouses but under third-party check of Auction Holdings Limited Commodity Exchange who are the collateral monitoring agents for PTA Bank under the deal.

The purchase of the maize late last year was mired in controversy and it led to the dismissal of George Chaponda as minister of Agriculture and his subsequent arrest a few days ago.

There was also a recommendation by Admarc Board that Chief Executive Officer, Foster Mulumbe, should be dismissed.

The developments followed the release of two separate inquiries that revealed that the two flouted procurement procedures in purchasing maize from Zambia.

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