CUTS official submits FRA best practices study report to Minister of Agriculture

July 01, 2016

The Consumer Unity and Trust Society (CUTS) International, Lusaka, has officially handed over the ‘Leveraging Regional Policy Successes to Improve Interventions by the FRA and the performance of maize markets in Zambia’ paper to the government through the Ministry of Agriculture.

The study paper was presented to Minister of Agriculture, Hon. Given Lubinda by CUTS Board member, Mr Yusuf Dodia on Thursday, June 30, 2016 at the Ministry of Agriculture Headquarters in Lusaka.

The handover followed the presentation of the final research paper findings and recommendations by CUTS researchers. The research goal of this paper was to conduct a case review of national strategic grain reserve institutions in the Sub Saharan Africa (SSA) region to provide evidence-based practices of good policy interventions that have been undertaken with minimum market distortionary effects on maize (staple food) markets.

Specifically, the study conducted an extensive analysis of strategic grain reserve agency operations in the region to identify demonstrated good practice of policy implementation so as to give recommendations on which of these can work for Zambia, given the current status of maize markets, outlining the actions that can to be undertaken to achieve the stated recommendations.

The study has made three main recommendations after studying the maize marketing mechanisms used in Rwanda, Tanzania, Ghana and Kenya. The study calls for: restricting FRA purchases to the national strategic reserve, and purchases targeting outlying areas that are not along the line of rail; using a price band to signal when government intervention in the market should be expected to occur beyond the purchase of national strategic reserves and lastly; and in the long-term, the FRA aiming to make purchases through the Zambia Commodity Exchange (ZAMACE) in order to avoid distortionary effects on the market.

In handing over the report, Mr. Dodia acknowledged the minister’s support and keen interest in research works being undertaken by CUTS. Mr. Dodia also called for the strengthening of Zambia’s agriculture value chains to make the country an actual regional food basket.

Mr. Lubinda commended CUTS for the quality of the organization’s research work. He however lamented what he termed as the painful paradoxical situation where in Zambia many farmers of the maize crop are themselves not food secure. He also expressed worry over the reducing population of farmers owing to increased rural-urban migration, which has increased the ration of consumers to producers as a direct consequence.

However, Mr. Lubinda expressed hope that studies such as this one will help the nation in solving the complex maize sector. The minister hopes that maize will eventually become a market-regulated crop like rice, beans, milk and beef among others. He indicated that the government was aware of the attractive marketing conditions in the sub-region in view of the current deficits in many countries but was quick to mention that strategic grain reserve levels will not be compromised.