The Food Reserve Agency (FRA) has bought in excess of 5,000 tonnes of soya beans in barely a month it went on the market, Agriculture Minister Reuben Phiri has said.
Mr Phiri said Government had budgeted for the FRA to buy 1,500 tonnes of soya beans but it had exceeded that target within a short period.
Initially we wanted to buy small tonnages of rice and soya beans, but I can tell you that as at today (yesterday), FRA has bought more than 350 per cent of soya beans. We had budgeted to buy like 1,500 tonnes, they are already in excess of 5,000 tonnes, ” Mr Phiri said.
Mr Phiri said in an interview in Lusaka yesterday that the response from soya beans farmers was overwhelming and the the ‘New Dawn Government was encouraging growing of the crop as it, through the FRA, was buying at a good price.
The FRA, is buying a 50 kilogramme (kg) bag of soya beans at K550 in the current crop marketing season, apart from white maize at K180 per kg and paddy rice at K200 for a 40 kg bag.
Mr Phiri said the agency had bought maize in excess of between 50,000 and 70,000 tonnes in about two weeks since FRA went on the market.
“We haven’t gone full blown because the moisture content is still high. So, whilst we are buying, we are in some ways restricting a little so that the maize can dry. You know FRA, when they buy, they keep for years and if you buy wet maize, it will just get spoiled,” he said.
Mr Phiri said farmers who were supplying the three crops to the FRA were being paid on cash basis and the Government had the money for the quantities it planned to buy.
Mr Phiri assured that there would be no outstanding payments for farmers who supplied their crops to the agency as they would be paid within a short period of a maximum two to three days.