By ANNIE ZULU

AGRICULTURE Minister Dora Siliya yesterday told Parliament that the Food Reserve Agency (FRA) has started preparations for the 2017/2018 crop marketing season.

And Ms Siliya has assured that the FRA has enough storage space for the 500,000 metric tonnes that it intends to purchase.

She said the FRA had 865,000 metric tonnes of secure storage.

The Minister said this in a ministerial statement on the marketing arrangements for the FRA for the 2017/18 marketing season.

Ms Siliya indicated that the carryover stocks accounted for 230,000 metric tonnes of the total capacity.

She said government had since allowed the FRA to export some of the carryover maize to create more space.

“I encourage the private traders to actively participate in maize marketing and fill up the void that FRA leave  in some areas,” she said.

Ms Siliya also disclosed that in due course, the FRA would announce the price at which it would participate in the market.

She however, emphasised that this was not a floor price, but simply the price at which FRA was willing and able to buy compared to other buyers.

Ms Siliya also said that government had undertaken various activities in preparation of the marketing season.

She said among the activities being undertaken, included gazetting designated commodities, such as rice, maize and soya beans.

“Once packaging mechanism and logistics are in place more crops on the FISP list will be procured in the future. Also 1,520 seasonal staff and satellite depot clerks have been trained countrywide; the deployment of staff is expected to be completed by July 12, 2017.

“The FRA has also been conducting maize moisture content monitoring countrywide,” Ms Siliya said.

And the National Assembly adjourned sine die last night. Vice President Inonge Wina announced that the National Assembly would adjourn and urged Members of Parliament (MPs) to take advantage of the break to visit their constituencies.

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