Wednesday, 30th November, 2022
A MOTION to urge Government to allow the Food Reserve Agency (FRA) to start exporting excess maize on behalf of small scale farmers has failed to go through after a spirited debate by opposition lawmakers.
The motion was moved by Patriotic Front (PF) Chama North lawmaker Yotum Mtayachalo and seconded by PF’s Kamfinsa Christopher Kang’ombe of the Copperbelt Province.
In their debate to garner support for the motion, both Mr. Mtayachalo and Mr. Kang’ombe argued that small scale farmers are losing out on the revenue they could make if they had market capacity to export the grain as a cash crop, in an apparent reference to the yawning Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).
The two lawmakers cautioned that such support, to small scale farmers, from Government through FRA, should NOT however come at the expense of national food security.
Mtayachalo and Kang’ombe are suggesting that government ensures first that the FRA meets its annual reserve purchase targets before any excess maize could be exported on behalf of small scale farmers that supply the grain to the agency.
They both believe that if such support was rendered, with an administrative fee, small scale farmers would grow their capacity and stop relying much on receiving subsidized farming imports like fertilizers.
The failed motion was equally supported by both Kanchibiya lawmaker Sunday Chilufya Chanda and Chilubi lawmaker, Mulenga Fube.
In his debate, Mr. Chanda argued that, while he supports the motion, he felt that the Zambia should focus on exporting finished products such as mealie meal and cornflakes.
Mr. Fube, on the other hand, proposed that the debate on the said motion should determine whether the FRA should be allowed to export maize for individual small scale farmers or cooperatives.
But in opposing the motion Mwandi lawmaker Sibeso Sefulo argued that it was misleading to suggest that the FRA should concentrate on just maize.
Ms. Sefulo wondered why farmers growing tomato and sweet potatoes should NOT be supported in a similar way.
In her view, the motion moved by the Chama North lawmaker, was a Brought In Dead (BID) proposal to government.
And in his debate to oppose the said motion, Agriculture Minister Rueben Mtolo Phiri contended that while the motion was well thought out and the debate by the mover had valid points, the idea of the motion was targeted at a wrong government institution.
Mr. Phiri contended that while the FRA is allowed to buy maize and sell, it is NOT in the business of finding export markets for small scale farmers.
Mr. Phiri suggested that the suitable government institution that can help small scale farmers, to achieve what was proposed in the motion was the Zambia Cooperative Federation (ZCF).
The motion thereafter failed after the Speaker subjected it to a ‘aye and no’ voice vote.