By Chusa Sichone
Isoka — PRESIDENT Edgar Lungu has said that plans are underway to give the mandate to the Food Reserve Agency (FRA) to be exporting surplus maize.
Mr Lungu said once the law was changed, the FRA would become a procuring agency on behalf other countries that wanted to buy maize in Zambia, and it would use the upfront payment to pay farmers that supplied the commodity on cash basis.
Addressing a public rally at Isoka roadside market yesterday, President Lungu said that plans to amend the law were meant to accelerate the process of buying maize from local farmers by the FRA as it would readily have the money once it exported to other countries.
“We are going to change the law to enable the Food Reserve Agency be a procuring agency on behalf of people from outside the country who want to buy maize from us by paying upfront so that FRA can come and pay you (farmers) cash so that you have your money ready. Currently the FRA does not have the authority to buy food and export it to hunger-stricken countries,” the President said.
President Lungu also announced that the Government was going to introduce a Mukula tree plantation to grow the most sought-after tree to replenish what was being cut.
Mr Lungu, however, expressed concern at the rampant illegal cutting and exportation of the logs in Muchinga Province and warned that whoever would be caught would be dealt with sternly.
In a bid to replenish the cut Mukula trees, Mr Lungu said the Government was consulting technocrats for them to guide on how to plant the Mukula trees and that they had so far hinted that was feasible.
“So we are going to begin planting Mukula tree like any other plantation, protect what is already there and harvest it in a very meaningful manner and add value,” he said.
When he visited the Nakonde One Stop Border Post later in the afternoon, President Lungu said going forward the law on smuggling needed to be revisited and that if there were any loopholes, they would be sealed so that the seized Mukula logs and vehicles used to ferry them were immediately forfeited to the State.
He said it had been discovered that the smugglers upon being fined by the court ended up being the same ones buying the logs and vehicles once they were auctioned.
Zambia Revenue Authority (ZRA) commissioner general Kingsley Chanda in briefing President Lungu said that as at Friday last week, 91 trucks laden with Mukula tree logs were detained at the Nakonde One Stop Border Post.
Meanwhile, at the Isoka rally and another at Nakonde Market, President Lungu warned members of Parliament serving as Cabinet ministers that they risked being dropped from their latter positions if they
neglected their constituencies under the guise of attending to ministerial responsibilities.