Agriculture permanent secretary Mr. Julius Shawa in his official opening remarks at the Review of the FRA Act National consultative forum in Lusaka, was magnanimous in praising the Food Reserve Agency for having assured the Nation of food security. The forum was held in Lusaka on the 6th December, 2017.
Mr. Shawa did not mince his words that despite the review process some remarkable things have come out or been done by FRA and these needed to be acknowledged. For example, he cited the trouble FRA took to provide a market to remote areas of the country never imaginable to most people and in the process helped share in both the distribution of wealth to rural communities and in having a fair political economy.
He reminded stakeholders to seriously reflect on their diagnosis of the performance of the institution and allow reason and not emotions drive them. The Permanent secretary said that one of the undoing of the Agency was that although it made huge sums of money for the Government in terms of sales, it did not keep a single ngwee as all the money went to Control 99 or Treasury. Thereafter, FRA went back to Government to beg for the same money to meet its operational challenges such as payment to farmers.
“Should FRA be a commercial or social institution?” the permanent secretary asked participants a rhetorical question. He echoed the sentiments of the FRA Board Chairperson who had spoken earlier.
The National consultative indaba held in Lusaka was a culmination of the provincial consultative meetings held previously across the country. Like the Lusaka indaba the provincial meetings attracted all key stakeholders in the Agriculture sub-sector from peasant farmers to commercial farmers who were represented by their institutions, including primary cooperatives.
Notable stakeholders at the Lusaka meeting were the Zambia National farmers Union (ZNFU), Indaba Agricultural Policy Research Institute (IAPRI), Millers Association of Zambia (MAZ), Grain Traders Association of Zambia (GTAZ), National Union of Small Farmers Association of Zambia (NUSFAZ) and many more. Other institutions made written submissions including the Prisons, Zambia National Service, University of Zambia School of Agriculture, and Policy Monitoring and Research Center (PMRC).
After the countrywide consultations the Ministry of Agriculture will now escalate the process as per procedure in enacting the laws of the country.