The Zambia National Farmers Union has revealed that it has received numerous complaints from farmers regarding the Food Reserve Agency buying price set at K75 per 50 KG bag of maize for the 2015/16 crop.
ZNFU President Evelyn Nguleka said the major concern by the Union is that the price is subeconomic and unattractive.
Dr Nguleka said the price is unattractive given the high fertilizer prices with D-Compound going up by 78% from K226/25 kg in 2014/15 season to K403/25 kg in the 2015/16 planting season.
She added that the price for Urea also went up by 55% from K226/25 Kg bag in 2014/15 season to K350/25 kg bag in 2015/16 season.
Dr Nguleka said high seed prices rose by over 49% from about K326/25kg bag in the 2014/15 season to an average of K487/25Kg bag during the 2015/16 planting season and in some cases, farmers paid over K1,000 for a 25Kg bag of maize seed.
She said other factors that have made the price unattractive are the high interest rates on loan facilities averaging 30% and the massive Kwacha depreciation which increased the cost of imported inputs, among others.
“The above concerns notwithstanding, government has advised that FRA’s purchase price will remain unchanged at K75 per 50KG bag of maize during the 2015/16 marketing season. In view of the escalated costs of maize production, we wish to advise farmers to sell a bag of maize at cost reflective prices which, according to our market intelligence and calculations, is above K75 per 50KG bag with some traders buying at K125 per bag,” Dr Nguleka said in a statement.
“A cost reflective price will enable farmers to have more income for investment in the next farming season. Sell to buyers that are offering cost reflective prices,” she said.
Dr Nguleka advised farmers to take advantage of the recently-launched Zambia Agricultural Commodity Exchange platform for market-driven and better maize prices and, where possible, make use of the Warehouse Receipts through ZAMACE-approved storage facilities in Lusaka, Mpongwe, Kapiri Mposhi, Kabwe, Petauke, and Sinda.
She farmers must embrace climate smart agricultural practices aimed at minimizing yield losses arising from adverse weather conditions and invest in improved efficiencies and productivity.
“As a result of the prolonged drought conditions in the region, Zambia and Tanzania are the only countries with surplus maize production in the 2015/16 farming season and this has triggered a high demand for the commodity regionally,” Dr Nguleka said.
“In order to enable our farmers benefit from export parity price currently going at US$ 290 per metric tonne for Harare-Lusaka, ZNFU is urging government to keep borders open, as promised, and to allow regulated exports of the commodity.”
“Similarly, the Union is urging government to help promote value addition across the maize value chain in order to create jobs and raise incomes from exports of processed products such as bran and mealie meal,” Dr Nguleka said.
The ZNFU President thanked farmers who, despite adverse weather conditions, escalated costs and energy deficits, went out of their way to ensure that Zambia is one of the few countries in the region with surplus maize production.