NFRA to retain 10,500 tonnes in Songea until next season
THE Prime Minister, Mr Kassim Majaliwa, yesterday directed the National Food Reserve Agency (NFRA) in Songea Zone to retain the existing stock of the maize, about 10,500 tonnes, until next harvest season to ensure food security.
He gave the directive to the zonal staff of the NFRA and Ruvuma regional leaders and executives after inspecting food reserves kept in the warehouses of the agency.
Mr Majaliwa was concerned with state of food availability in the future, learning from the current climate changes that led to delayed rains in many regions, including Ruvuma, where normally in January; it could already have started raining - coupled with cold. “Just look now at the level of temperature. It’s hot. Experience tells us that by now it could have started pouring and the maize trunks could have started showing up.
But until today (yesterday), I am told that it has only rained twice while the maize has started to wither,” he noted with concern. The premier said that “if it won’t rain by today (yesterday), we must take precaution,” adding that even if it would rain now, people would not be sure how long it would rain and at what level.”
He directed the Regional Commissioner (RC), District Commissioners (DCs) and District Executive Directors (DEDs) to educate the people on the importance of keeping the reserve for themselves and get rid of unnecessary ceremonies at which they use a lot of food.
Songea NFRA’s Zonal Manager Majuto Chabruma earlier informed the premier that during the present harvest season they planned to buy 22,000 tonnes of maize from farmers. But until December, last year, they managed to buy 10,335.3 tonnes at the cost of 5.28bn/-.
He cited improved road infrastructure in the region as among the factors behind the missed maize buying target in the current harvest season. Elaborating, he said, better roads made farmers travel to other regions to sell their produce before the NFRA started buying them. He offered an explanation on the poor quality of the crops from farmers, noting that the problem originated from the initial stages of cultivation.
Songea is among seven zones, which serve the whole of Ruvuma Region, noting that other zones that supply food to all regions are Arusha, Kipawa, Dodoma, Shinyanga, Makambako and Sumbawanga.
The Songea Zone has storehouses with the capacity of reserving 29,000 tonnes of cereals. Currently, it has been made part of the NFRA Storage Expansion Project. The aim is to enable it reach the 700,000-tonne storage capacity by 2020.
Under the project, the zonal office has bought two plots on which they will construct two silos with the capacity of reserving 46,000 tonnes and building two warehouses for storing 5,000 tonnes.
Completion of the project would see the Songea Zone manage to store up to 85,000 tonnes of the cereals - from only 29,000 tonnes