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Zambia’s Food Security Bolstered by Successful 2023 Agricultural Marketing Season

Zambia, with an estimated population of twenty million people, has achieved a significant milestone in its pursuit of food security during the recently concluded 2023 agricultural marketing season. 

The Food Reserve Agency (FRA), established by the government in 1995 as a strategic food reserve marketing board, playes a crucial role in ensuring a robust food security framework for the nation.

Food security, a top priority for the government, is defined as the consistent access to sufficient, safe, and nutritious food for all citizens, as emphasized by Technology and Science Minister Felix Mutati. The Zambia Food Security Brief, published by FEWS NET, outlines the four pillars of food security: availability, access, utilization, and stability.

The cornerstone of Zambia’s food security lies in crop production, with maize being the dominant staple crop, followed by cassava, wheat, rice, beans, groundnuts, and other legumes. To fortify the country’s food security, the establishment of strategic food reserves is deemed essential, leading to the formation of the Food Reserve Agency.

Mr. John Chipandwe, the FRA Public Relations Coordinator, highlighted the agency’s mandate to ensure national food security and provide market access for rural-based small-scale farmers by maintaining a sustainable national strategic food reserve. The FRA operates over 1200 depots countrywide, with modern ones under construction, to stabilize food prices through a strategic grain reserve.

During the 2023 agricultural marketing season, FRA bought selected agricultural commodities from farmers, with maize being a primary focus. The floor price for maize was set at K280 per 50-kilogram bag. The marketing season, concluding on October 31st, 2023, saw over one billion Kwacha (K1,942,776,920) disbursed to farmers, totaling 6,938,489 bags of grade A white maize.

Farmers, such as Ms. Annie Ng’ambi from Chinsali District in Muchinga, expressed satisfaction with the prompt payment and improved floor price. Ms. Ng’ambi lauded FRA for paying within a short time, enabling farmers to plan for the next farming season efficiently.

Felix Moyo, the Muchinga Province Marketing Coordinator, commended FRA for outperforming competitors with competitive prices, prompt payments, and the use of accurate scales. The immediate cash payment system at satellite depots was another highlight of the 2023 marketing season, providing relief to farmers who live far from banking facilities.

Stella Katoto, a Satellite Depot Clerk at Mulakupikwa in Chinsali, shared that many farmers preferred selling to FRA due to the immediate cash payments, urging the agency to continue the program in the upcoming marketing season.

Farmers like Victor Silengwe of Isoka praised the government and FRA for their efforts in the 2023 marketing season, citing the good maize prices, instant cash payments, and the convenience of not incurring additional costs on transport or lodging.

As Zambia continues its commitment to food security, the success of the 2023 agricultural marketing season serves as a testament to the effectiveness of strategic planning and collaborative efforts in ensuring the nation’s access to sufficient and nutritious food. The positive outcomes signal hope for future seasons and reinforce the importance of sustained agricultural initiatives.

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