Agriculture Minister Michael Katambo says each household is only allowed to buy one 50 kilogramme bag of maize from the Food Reserve Agency (FRA) under the current community sales at all agency sale points.

Responding to questions in Parliament, Tuesday, Katambo warned officers at the sale points to desist from charging fees to members of the community whenever they wanted to register for the next purchase list.

Responding to a question from Chipili Independent member of parliament Jewis Chabi, who wanted to know what the expected number of bags each family was expected to buy from the Agency, Katambo said each household was only allowed to buy only one bag, or two in exceptional cases.

“Mr Speaker, each household receives or is recommended to purchase 1x50Kg bag of grain, and in exceptional cases Mr Speaker, households are recommended to buy two bags. But usually the recommendation is one bag of 50Kg per household,” Katambo responded.

Earlier, Kalabo Central UPND member of parliament Chinga Miyutu had asked a written question on whether or not government was aware that people in Kalabo District were required to apply, at a fee, to buy maize from the Agency.

Katambo replied by saying that government was not aware and that those allegedly collecting fees from people should be reported to authorities.

“Government is not aware of such an application fee for the communities to buy maize from the Food Reserve Agency in Kalabo or any other district in Zambia. The Food Reserve Agency does not charge any application fee for the community sales. If such a thing is happening, Mr Speaker in Kalabo, it is important that the persons charging such a fee are reported to the district administration for disciplinary action,” Katambo responded.

And when Chelenge PF member of parliament Anthony Malama asked on what the procedure was for one to buy maize at the FRA, Katambo replied, saying:

“The people apply through the District Commissioner’s office, that’s those that qualify to buy community sales. The District Commissioner approves all applications for community sales. And then government has also engaged the Ministry of Community Development and Social Services to help identify the most vulnerable communities in all these areas where the FRA is selling grain to the community.”

And Katambo warned that those that would be caught illegally charging members of the community would be disciplined accordingly.

“The DCs and management are not charging any fee at all. This has come about because the unruly business people who have taken advantage of this situation that government now has availed these community sales in these catchments areas where we have experienced vulnerability of climate change disasters. The DCs are even using village registers to verify the most vulnerable who should access maize through these community sales. When this is verified and is found to be true, then necessary discipline measures will be taken into consideration,” he warned.

Meanwhile, when asked by Liuwa UPND member of parliament Situmbeko Musokotwane on the allegations that those who purchased maize from FRA were selected on partisan lines, Katambo said his Ministry was not involved in the selling of maize and that the whole process was being managed by FRA.

“This programme, Mr Speaker, is being run by the Food Reserve Agency. So, officers from the Ministry of Agriculture are not part of these activities. So, there are officers from the FRA who get on the ground to see how these programmes are being implemented,” responded Katambo.