THE Food Reserve Agency (FRA) says it will definitely meet its one million metric tonne maize target provided government disburses the required amount of money needed for making purchases.

And the Agency says early payment to farmers for the maize supplied is what will allow them to reach the target, hence weekly meetings with government are already underway to ensure resources are made available.

In an interview, FRA executive director Chola Kafwabulula said expressed enthusiasm at the agency’s ability to meet the target.

“I don’t see any reason why we should not reach the one million target. But of course, in the first place, what is critical is the farmers should be paid on time. We have been promised by government that money will be released on time so if money is released on time and given that we have got a bumper harvest, if you compare last year’s harvest and this year’s, this year has gone up by 69 per cent. So, with 3.3 million metric tonnes of maize produced, we cannot fail to meet one million because 3.3 million, if you take out one million for FRA, you have got 2.3 million. Now, I don’t think the private sector alone and other players can absorb all that 2.3 million. As far as I am concerned, it is correct that we can meet the one million target as long as money is released on time and so far, there is very goodwill from government and we have continued having weekly meetings just to check on the progress and the efforts being made to raise money for the one million metric tonnes. But I want to admit that what will help us reach that target is early payment to the farmers,” Kafwabulula said.

He recalled that the Agency had successfully managed to purchase more than one million metric tonnes in prior crop marketing seasons.

“But again, maybe our people need to understand one thing; I know for those who have not been following the news, one million appears like it’s something out of this world. Let me just give you a classical example, in 2011, the FRA bought 1.7 million metric tonnes so that one million, although I know it’s a lot of maize, I don’t think it’s something out of this world. We have handled that kind of purchase before. In 2012, we bought 1 million, 35,000 metric tonnes; in 2014, we bought 1 million, 21,000 metric tonnes. So, one million to the FRA is not something that is new,” said Kafwabulula.