A REVIEW OF THE PROPOSALS OF THE FOOD RESERVE ACT CHAPTER 225 OF THE LAWS OF ZAMBIA

Wednesday, 06 December 2017 08:21

The proposed amendments to the FRA Act are deeply concerning. Taken, they move the FRA’s mandate from that of a strategic reserve institution to that of a trader and exporter in the market place. This flies in the face of commitments from the Government to reduce their involvement in the agricultural sector, and specifically maize markets as embodied in the 7NDP, the Zambia CAADP Compact, National Agricultural Policy, the Zambia Plus and the PF 2016 Agricultural Manifesto, and risks adding to Zambia’s debt burden and stifling growth in the agricultural sector. The buzz words in all these documents is that ‘Agriculture will be private sector-led, transparent and predictable’. Yet, the proposed amendments to the FRA act will take the country in the opposite direction.


The FRA’s proposals are underpinned by assumptions that cannot be empirically justified. The proposals suggest that the FRA can both stabilise prices (carrying out its traditional social function), while at the same time become commercially viable. The experiences of the National Agricultural Marketing Board (NAMBOARD) are still fresh with us. The Board miserably failed to balance the two roles, which is why it was scrapped off. Experiences in Malawi, Zimbabwe, Tanzania and Kenya show exactly the same dismal performances. To ask the FRA to provide price stabilisation and be commercially viable is to ask it to carry out two contradictory roles. To be viable, the FRA must buy commodities at a commercial price which will fluctuate based on supply and demand. Moreover, the ....read more!.