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NFRA systems under scrutiny

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The National Food Reserve Agency (NFRA) says it will continue following laid down procedures while being flexible enough to respond to emergencies in the release of maize from grain reserves to ensure availability of relief food during times of shortages.

This follows concerns that processes to access maize from the NFRA are cumbersome due to, among other things, the involvement of donors in the drawing-down of maize from the strategic grain reserves.

NFRA chief executive officer, Nasinuku Saukira, admits that NFRA has a technical committee comprising government, donors and representatives of some relevant non-governmental organisation that have to agree on any release of maize from the reserves.

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He said as a humanitarian institution, NFRA only responds to emergencies after conducting proper assessments of a situation.

Saukira said, however, the committee is flexible when it comes to decision making.

“If there is need to expedite a response, we can even meet at mid night. But there is nothing like cutting corners because we are expected to account at the end of the day,” said Saukira.

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Principal secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture, Erica Maganga, explained that donors are part of the Strategic Grain Reserve and Commercial Maize Committee through which they provide their inputs in the general discussions of the committee, including approvals or disapprovals of draw downs from the SGR.

“Before any drawdown from the SGR is approved, the members of the SGR and Commercial Maize Committee want to be sure who will replenish such grain in the SGR. This is in line with laid out procedures for grain drawdown from the SGR,” said Maganga.

Civil Society Agriculture Network (Cisanet) executive director, Tamani Nkhono, suggests that NFRA should work with Admarc by using some of its structures during replenishment rather than taking grain to the SGRs only to transport it back to rural areas during time of need.

“The two should work tog e ther becaus e thei r mandates are complimentary,” said Nkhono

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