The National Food Reserve Agency (NFRA) says it will buy 17 000 metric tonnes of maize worth K3 billion for storage in the strategic grain reserves (SGR).
This is, however, contrary to recommendation by the Agriculture Committee of Parliament to use commodity exchange markets to procure the maize.
Last year, the committee recommended that NFRA should use Auction Holdings Commodity Exchange to procure 32 000 metric tonnes of maize on its behalf as a measure of dealing with challenges such as favouritism and corruption.
However, NFRA chief executive officer Nasinuku Saukira said on Thursday that they will not use commodity exchange markets to procure maize.
Said Saukira: “We hope in four to six weeks, we should procure this maize. By month end, we should be finalising the tendering process and by February, we should have the supply done because this is small stock. But, if people have stock and deliver, it shouldn’t take us 30 days to buy the maize.
He said during previous procurement of maize, there was chaos because people were just popping in to supply while this time, there will be proper organisation.
Parliamentary Committee on Agriculture chairperson Joseph Chidanti Malunga wondered why NFRA wants to directly manage the process.
He said the committee will be meeting soon and NFRA will be invited to explain the latest development, adding that one of the reasons Parliament recommended commodity exchange was to avoid benefitting the elite.
Auction Holdings Commodity Exchange provides an organised market system where a warehouse receipt system enables farmers to access quick cash while waiting for prices to improve. Last year, the exchange purchased 32 000 metric tonnes on behalf of NFRA.
In 2018 government released K10 billion for the purchase of the commodity of which NFRA received K5 billion while State grain trader, the Agriculture Development Marketing Corporation (Admarc) got K5 billion.