Grain storage facilities maintenance challenges in Zambia: a case study of the food reserve agency.

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Muntanga, Cravans
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The University of Zambia
This study was aimed at evaluating the effectiveness of strategic maize storage in Zambia. Maize is a staple food in Zambia. However, because of seasonal production, its storage must be such that it is kept in good condition for sustained supply all year round. It has been observed that a large proportion of stored grain is wasted because of poor post-harvest management in Southern African countries such as Zambia. Among the factors responsible for losses are inadequate and ineffective grain storage facilities and poor handling practices. In Zambia, the mandate for management of sustainable national strategic food reserves and ensuring national food security lies with the Food Reserve Agency (FRA). This research therefore used the FRA as a case study to investigate the challenges that the agency faces in the management maize storage facilities. Using the mixed methods approach, the study deployed explanatory case study with the study centered on three key theories, namely: maintenance management, asset management and property management with the scope covering all the silos and six sheds managed by the FRA across Zambia. The specific objectives of the study were to establish the current state of strategic storage facilities, to determine the maintenance philosophy used in the management of strategic storage facilities, to establish the challenges faced in the maintenance of strategic storage facilities and to determine the best and most cost-effective strategies to use in the maintance of strategic storage facilities. The study’s participants were drawn from within the FRA and held different portfolios that included marketing, standards and quality, warehousing, property management and monitoring and evaluation. Among the findings of the study was that the depots and sheds of FRA were in fairly good and acceptable condition. The findings, however, showed that the FRA did not have a clear maintenance management policy or a maintenance management philosophy. Much of its approach to maintenance management was on an ad hoc or reactive basis. Additionally, capacity gaps, technical and financial inadequacies were identified as major challenges in conducting effective maintenance management. Other findings showed that the FRA conducted inspections on its property but that these were not structured. Overall, there is need for the FRA to adopt robust policies on maintenance management so that the implementation of maintenance management is well planned and structured.
Thesis of Master of Engineering in Engineering Management.