Farmers in Moyo chiefdom of Pemba district found knitting the 50 Kilogrammes bags of maize for sell at one of the Food Reserve Agency depots in the area.THE Zambia National Farmers Union (ZNFU) has urged farmers countrywide to hold on to their maize until it has a meeting with the Food Reserve Agency (FRA) to review the price of the commodity.

The union’s president Jervis Zimba said in an interview yesterday that ZNFU has received reports from Eastern and Southern provinces that farmers are being exploited by private traders who are buying maize at as low as K35 per 50kg bag.

Hitherto, the maize grain was being bought at K80 and above in some parts of the country.

Mr Zimba has written to the FRA requesting for a meeting to review the price of maize so that farmers are not disadvantaged.

“If we fail to resolve the matter between FRA and farmers, we will appeal to President Lungu to intervene,” Mr Zimba said.

He wants FRA and ZNFU to discuss the matter and revise the current price.

Mr Zimba said FRA’s price of K60 is far too short of the cost of producing a 50kg bag of maize which is calculated at K75.

He said farmers should not sell their maize until the price of the commodity is reviewed during a meeting between FRA and ZNFU.

“It’s unfortunate that because of FRA’s decision, unscrupulous maize traders are forcing farmers to sell them maize at K35 in Vubwi in Eastern Province,” Mr Zimba said.

He said the decision by FRA to fix the price of maize at K60 per 50kg bag is frustrating efforts by the head of State to run an agro-based economy.

And Mr Zimba said President Lungu is committed to running an agricultural-based economy but that there are people who allegedly want his policies to fail.

Mr Zimba said all stakeholders in the agriculture sector should support President Lungu’s call for an agro-based economy as he is the father of the nation.

He said there is need for a balanced price of maize which will benefit farmers.

Mr Zimba said if the status quo remains, farmers will have no money next farming season and that this will force Government to import maize.

When contacted for a comment, FRA executive director Chola Kafwabulula said the agency has not yet received the letter from ZNFU.

“I don’t just comment anyhow. I am a technocrat, I have to sit down with my managers and discuss what we will say as FRA,” he said

Zambia is projected to harvest 3.6 million metric tonnes of maize, out of which FRA will buy 500,000 metric tonnes while the private sector will purchase 3.2 million tonnes

Meanwhile, Government says FRA as a player in agriculture is at liberty to set the price at which it will be buying maize from farmers because it is a liberalised industry in which producers can choose where to sell their crop.

Ministry of Agriculture permanent secretary Julius Shawa said in an interview that FRA is just one player in a large market and it announces the price at which it wishes to buy the maize because it cannot buy from everyone.

Mr Shawa said the agricultural market, like any other, has prices determined by forces of demand and supply and that FRA as a player cannot buy from all farmers.

He urged farmers to look beyond the domestic markets and take advantage of foreign ones by exporting their grain as this is even more profitable than selling to FRA.

Mr Shawa said farmers should increase production and export their maize to countries and regions like the Democratic Republic of Congo and East Africa.

He said this will not only ensure food security but the farmers will also gain more by exporting.

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11 COMMENTS

  1. Makes zero sense and ZNFU do not influence the price of these bags.

    Monopoloy in the case of fRA implies a cheaper commodities unless they export them out of the country ?

    Thanks

    BB2014,2016

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    • Well said ba ZNFU- the price set by FRA is not making sense. The truth is the demand for maize is infact quite high but fake market forces are distorting this.
      Zimbabwe has infact been importing maize as their maize harvest will not be sufficient for the whole year.
      SA maize is GM and is only fit for Namibian and SA markets and can’t be exported to rest of SADC and Comesa.
      Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi, Uganda, Somalia and Southern Sudan require in total an excess of over 5million tons of maize to meet their demand.
      Dora and Mutati have failed to make the export of maize user friendly and its an expensive exercise! How does an illiterate farmer from Lufwanyamo with 200bags go to Lusaka for an export permit??? Dora and Mutati want to benefit from this exercise by giving tenders to…

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    • Ctn… Dora and Mutati want to benefit from this exercise by giving tenders to their Greek paymasters!!!! Shame!!!!Its the job of the agric minister to find market for local farmers produce! Simple!!!The relief maize that the UN and other agencies are buying in millions of tons to combat the terrible hunger and famibne in East Africa is coming from as far as South America!!! Why when there is a bumper harvest with an excess of maize in Zambia???? Someone must be fired yesterday!!!!!!The danger here is a lot of small scale Zambian farmers will be discouraged from farming this season which will result in a catastrophe next year- affecting the economy terribly-it will be embarrassing for us to import maize next year because of the short sightedness of 2 arrogant ministers!

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  2. First and Foremost,Farmers with excess maize were stopped from selling it abroad at a selling price of over K90 per 50kg bag due to confused government policy stating we had a maize deficit later changing to surplus.
    Now that South Africans have flooded their cheap maize in Congo DR is when you release instructions for farmers to sell abroad?
    This is a scheme for the briefcase business men/women to buy cheaply and at the end of the year export at inflated prices to far markets like Kenya where demand for our maize will be high.
    Meantime our farmers have to pay back their loans,take their children to school and so will well cheaply under duress.
    Let us learn and plan to empower our farmers even to the extent of providing subsidies like they do in the EU otherwise we risk killing the…

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  3. Continued….
    Meantime our farmers have to pay back their loans,take their children to school and so will be forced to sell cheaply under duress.
    Let us learn and plan to empower our farmers even to the extent of providing subsidies like they do in the EU otherwise we risk killing the goose that lays the golden eggs.

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  4. Do people understand market forces? When supply is high prices drop. Making a loss is part of business when supply overshoot demand. All farmers know even prices of tomatoes, rape, green maize naturally drop when supply increases. Visit Sowe to market and check the price of rape today and check what it was in December. That is how businesses are done.

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  5. There is an unanswered point !!

    If its a liberalised policy, why was the 600,000 tons excess for last season blocked for exports ?

    If maize prices go up, the govt intervenes. When maize prices go down, they start talking about free market.

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  6. This could be a political ploy to show the caring side of our president when he directs fra to pay more, in reality he can’t because he has already said that fra are independent. I pray that it is a ploy otherwise there wont be a crop next year and we become subsistence farmers. Again.
    Holding onto the maize is exactly what private buyers want. The more desperate the farmer the more likely a lower price

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  7. Listen to those who speak of market forces etc do you also understand the economics behind setting a floor price? You set a floor price to encourage production and not for one side to make abnormal profits!Even in Europe the European Union has for years set floor prices for agricultural commodities such as milk etc at a minimum so as not to discourage production of those commodities! FRA has a duty to secure food production especially of the main staple maize by setting a realistic floor price so that farmers will continue to grow the crop, K60 for a 50kg bag is not realistic as I mentioned in my earlier posts and as ZNFU have also stated K75 at least makes more sense. Failing to set a realistic price will see less production next year and a reality of FRA importing maize next year which…

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    • Ctn… Failing to set a realistic price will see less production next year and a reality of FRA importing maize next year which will be more costly to the govt than a mere increment of K1.5 for the maize floor price! Those with wisdom see the sense here!!!

      (By “minimum” price in the EU case I refer to above I mean above the minimum cost of production that farmers bear in producing agric commodities such as milk the K60 in Zambia’s case for maize is below the minimum farmers spend to produce that amount and as such as making a loss.)

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