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Revise strategic food reserves to 350, 000 tonnes – ZIPAR

BUUMBA CHIMBULU writes

@SunZambian

GOVERNMENT should revise the strategic food reserves to 350,000 tonnes as a way of ensuring food security at lower costs, says the Zambia Institute for Policy Analysis and Research (ZIPAR).

The call follows government’s announcement recently that it would only buy 300,000 tonnes of white maize this year through the Food Reserve Agency (FRA).

ZIPAR however suggested that Government should revise the figure to 350,000 tonnes, representing three months lead time for the 2018/19 season.

The think-tank said this in its latest report the “Economic Stabilisation and Growth Programme (ESGP)”.

ZIPAR also observed the need for Government to conduct periodic reviews of the strategic food reserve size to reflect changing population dynamics, market and availability as well as consumption patterns.

It said FRA could play a smaller role in the maize market.

“By matching its prices to the prevailing market price, it could reduce the volume of purchase from farmers and channel these savings to other social protection schemes in the agricultural sector,” ZIPAR said.

Meanwhile, ZIPAR observed the need for Government to redouble efforts to rationalise expenditures to take the pressure off the treasury and ensure that the ESGP attained its goals.

ZIPAR said government should focus spending plans on increased support to priority social and growth areas.

Government should instead ensure that priority expenditures in social sectors such as health, education and social protection were sustained.

“Alongside the already stipulated strategies, Government should also pursue mechanisms that ensure that citizens are equipped to use the automated and modernised systems. The toll takings should also be made non-deductible expenses for income tax,” ZIPAR said.

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