FRA sticks to the K60 for maize Price, it is a market price. Farmers appeal to Agric Minister

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Jervis Zimba
Jervis Zimba

In a new turn of events, the Union has received a letter from the FRA stating …” It is therefore the considered view of the board that the price of K60 per 50 Kg bag of white maize be maintained because it is a market price.”

This is after the ZNFU and FRA met on Friday 4 th August 2017, where the Union made it very clear that the K60 set by the FRA was below the cost of producing maize and the FRA decided to commute the matter to the FRA Board.

According to ZNFU president Mr. Jervis Zimba, the Union has now decided to escalate the matter to the Minister of Agriculture: “The Union is shocked by this development and we have escalated this matter to the Minister of Agriculture because of the inconsistencies at play. Last season, market conditions were interfered with because after the maize was bought from farmers exports were stopped through an export ban and introduction of a 10% export tax. Resulting from this, traders who would have exported the maize and would have been liquid to buy the maize this season are out of the equation as they have no money to participate. As we speak FRA is also selling to some traders ostensibly for exports.”

Below is the farmers Union Full statement

media release
11th August, 2017

PRESS STATEMENT ON THE FOOD RESERVE AGENCY PRODUCER PRICE OF K60 PER 50Kg BAG

The Zambia National Farmers Union(ZNFU) engaged the Food Reserve Agency (FRA) after the FRA announced the 2017 maize producer price. A meeting was held with the FRA on Friday 4th August 2017 as the Union was not consulted prior to announcing the price.

During the meeting, the Union made it very clear that the K60 set by the FRA was below the cost of producing maize. The FRA calculations put the cost of growing maize under FISP along the line of rail and in rural areas at K60 per bag and K73 per bag as the cost for non-FISP farmers. Under the FRA model, farmers are not expected to make any ends meet from growing maize as the FISP supported farmers will only break even with no profit, while the non FISP supported farmers will make a loss. The Union made its case and management of FRA decided to commute the matter to the FRA Board.

In a new turn of events, the Union has received a letter from the FRA stating and we quote…” It is therefore the considered view of the board that the price of K60 per 50 Kg bag of white maize be maintained because it is a market price.” The Union is shocked by this development and we have escalated this matter to the Minister of Agriculture because of the inconsistencies at play.

Last season, market conditions were interfered with because after the maize was bought from farmers exports were stopped through an export ban and introduction of a 10% export tax. Resulting from this, traders who would have exported the maize and would have been liquid to buy the maize this season are out of the equation as they have no money to participate. As we speak FRA is also selling to some traders ostensibly for exports.

What we can deduce is that farmers have been sacrificed after interfering with market prices last season. We must fore warn against such piece meal and short-sighted benefits that will arise because of paying farmers paltry prices. The mealie meal price may drop now but the clear signal to farmers is DON’T GROW MAIZE going forward. Being a staple food, maize production cannot be left to the vagaries of unpredictable interventions. A case in point of our neighbours, Malawi and Zimbabwe shows that the farmers there have been offered prices that translate to US$240 per tonne and US$380 per tonne respectively which translates to US$12 (K120) and US$19 (K190) per 50Kg bag against the FRA price which amounts to US$120 per tonne or US$6 (K60) per 50Kg bag. It is evident that our neighbours are incentivising maize production while our situation is to the contrary. Unless a careful review is done to improve the FRA producer price, the country will find itself having to import maize in the seasons ahead.

The reality on the ground is that the producers of the 2.2 million tonnes of the maize that is marketed was not largely from FISP farmers because some of the FISP maize is retained for own consumption; FISP inputs were supplied late so most farmers had to buy inputs anyway and stored away the late inputs for next season, and the FISP pack is too small for many households that interact with markets.

In our view, the FRA price will increase poverty in farming areas because the perennial middlemen have already positioned themselves buying at very low prices for supplying to the real market players such as FRA, Millers, other Processors, exports etc. The consequences of the announced FRA producer price are just too severe to even contemplate. As such, it should be revisited immediately without any hidden agendas.

If nothing is done, monitor the disastrous ripple effects that will follow on all other businesses that deal with the farmers such as banks, agribusinesses and many more. To us, passing a verdict the FRA price is premised on market prices is literally spitting on the farmer for having grown the staple food leading to the huge supply is utterly short sighted.

The Union has written to the Minister of Agriculture to sanitize this unfortunate state of affairs. At this juncture, my appeal to the farmers is that let us give Government a chance to hear our plea and review this matter failure to which the crusade to make Zambia the bread basket will remain the usual rhetoric and pipe dream.

Jervis Zimba
ZNFU PRESIDENT

27 COMMENTS

    • I always feel eating maize or nshima is not good. No vitamins.

      I eat potatoes and rice.

      This is life I lead in Europe.

      Thanks

      Bb2014,2016

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    • This is not a wise move by the Govt! Just increasing by 30ngwe from K1.2 to the breakeven K1.5 per kg will cost the state only an extra USD18million dollars for the 500,000 tons earmarked for purchase by FRA- less than what the ministry of Transport is looking at spending on a national airline which will not yield any positive returns for years to come. The points laid out by Jervis Zimba are very valid, we cannot risk discouraging farmers from producing maize this coming season or else we will starve and have to import which will be more costly than the minor increment of 30ngwe! We pray for a change on this stance as livelihoods and lives depend on that price going up to at least 75 per bag!

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    • It is all a stunt and the quest for recognition. Now the illegal minister will inform you that she discussed with the illegal president and they have heard the people. They are a listening government and their priority is the plight of the farmers. Raise the floor price! And the PF cadres applaud and do a Mexican wave. They give praise to their demi-god leader and say “He is humble. 2021 nafuti nafuti”. He looks at them with with scone and smiles thru his crooked teeth thinking “clueless fo.ols”.

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    • @1.4 If he’s illegal why don’t you send your police to arrest him? Here’s a serious issue but all you do is bring in your political nonsense.

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  1. @Imute wa Kalilo, I think Hazaluza Hagain! What do you think? You will never know what these guys are up to (UPND)! Last time they were complaining that the price of mealie meal was high! Now maize is going low which will make the mealie meal to go down too, they are complaining! These guys don’t mean well but want to cause trouble in the nation – all the time!

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    • I see someone trying to gain some attention here. You think by saying UPND this or that you’ll become a famous blogger? Kikikikiki

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  2. What if the farmers union decided its own price? And refused to sell at a lower price? Would the FRA force the K60 price on them?

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    • Exactly my line of thinking. What I am doing now is work out the price of a meda and start selling in those quantities. That way you may realize even 90 kwacha per bag.

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  3. this is not fair, you people who put prices have you ever tried to do farming?
    how much was fertilizer per bag and a bag of seed?
    are you going to sell to the farmers fertilizer @K70/bag 2017/2018 season?
    if not, then this is pure mockery!

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  4. “…Last season, market conditions were interfered with because after the maize was bought from farmers exports were stopped through an export ban and introduction of a 10% export tax. Resulting from this, traders who would have exported the maize and would have been liquid to buy the maize this season are out of the equation as they have no money to participate. As we speak FRA is also selling to some traders ostensibly for exports.”

    Really laughable ..you are dealing with crooks and you are going to cry to Dora’s ministry …its like wildebeests going to complain to the Lion pride about the Hyenas hunting them left right and centre

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  5. The move is a big puncture in the wheels of the highly preached economic diversification drive, lts a mockery to our hard working famers and very soon we will regret this day light robbery from the pocket the famers. The famers union must as well recuse itself if their role in between is simply to relay the message to and from. The best partner a famer needs is some one who would market their products to the highest bidder possible locally or internationally, not the union. As for our head of state, I observe with disappointment that when your govt foreseeing the political propaganda it could have generated from the opposition had people starved last year,took it upon itself to ban exportation of the product, even where famers could have gotten handsome returns on their maize. Today…

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  6. …the same famers seek govt`s similar interventions , but only to be told now that govt is not the buyer its FRA. Surely?

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  7. During last year’s presidential debate, Green Party leader Peter Sinkamba called maize-based agriculture as “mangamanga agriculture”. He labelled maize as a “poor man’s crop”. He argued that no Zambian has ever become rich from maize growing. He said if we want to continue impoverishing the majority of Zambians, we should continue prioritizing “mangamanga agriculture”.

    This year’s marketing season has proven him right. I now agree Peter Sinkamba has a valid point.

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  8. They are demolishing our country piece-meal.

    Anyway more money in your pockets, and don chi kubeba.

    Who cares about farmers anyway…. honestly speaking this is bad. A farmer feeds the nation, seemingly we can’t even get the basics right, we are not really interested in taking Zambia forward under the current guard. It’s pretty much disgusting what’s going on.

    Greedy, neglectful, uncaring Zambians that care not for the future.

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  9. This is hypocrisy which God does not like.When the market of maize was fetching good price at the market you intervined and stoped people from selling out side the country.
    Anyway i hope farmers in Luapula,Northen and Eastern province shall enjoy this price as you think you will benefit from your tribe mates.Sing louder the dununa reverse song.

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    • Why bring in tribes? When people say you’re tribal, you say they just hate your tribe. The issue affects everybody regardless of their origins.

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  10. More maize, more food on the market, evil spirits from the South still can’t appreciate! Chief Namwala will never run Zambia! The closest he came to was privatization which made him rich! Zambia is not for sale!

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  11. Political advisor advised the government that if you buy for more than K60 it’ll drive the price of mealie meal higher on the copper belt and we will lose to Kambwili in Roan constituency. STOP PLAYING POLITICS WITH POOR FARMERS.

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