The Zambia National Farmers Union (ZNFU) in Mazabuka has threatened to expose some millers from Lusaka, who have allegedly invaded most parts of the district to buy maize at low prices from unsuspecting farmers.
In an interview with Zanis, ZNFU Mazabuka Business Agri Manager Clement Phiri said investigations conducted by his organisation have revealed that some millers from Lusaka have allegedly hired agents to buy maize from farmers at as low as K18,000 in Chief Mwanachingwala’s area and between K 25,000 and K 35,000 in Chivuna and Chikankata respectively.
Mr Phiri said there is need for government to intervene and announce the floor price of maize to protect the farmers from exploitation.
He appealed to government to consider allocating more money to FRA towards the crop marketing season adding that government should prepare for any food shortages by buying enough maize from farmers for national reserves.
Mr Phiri said ZNFU is concerned at the high number of unscrupulous maize traders buying maize at give away prices adding that the situation could create an artificial maize shortage on the market.
He regretted that farmers were selling maize at a price which is lower than last year’s floor price of maize.
In the 2007/2008 maize marketing season a 50 kilogramme bag of maize was fetching K50,000.
Mr Phiri has since urged Agriculture Minister, Brian Chituwo, to ensure the floor price of maize is announced in the first week of May to save farmers from unscrupulous businessmen.
Yesterday, Mazabuka District Commissioner, Tyson Hamaamba, pleaded with farmers to stop selling maize at give away prices and wait for the government to announce the floor price.
He advised farmers to appreciate the fact that farming is a business venture and that any losses would impact negatively on the 2009/2010 farming season as they would not be able to buy farming inputs.