Green Party President Peter Sinkamba has maintained that maize is a poor mans crop which should not be used a poverty reduction strategy.
Responding to a press query on the floor price of K65 per 50kg bag of maize, Mr. Sinkamba reiterated his 2016 presidential election campaign slogan that “maize is a poor mans crop” which cannot be used as a strategic crop to alleviate poverty in a country or other setting.
He explained that since independence in 1964, successive government has invested billions of dollars in maize production as an economic empowerment strategy for the rural framers but not a single farmer has ever been economically empowered through maize cultivation.
“Point at any farmer that you know in Zambia today who can be used as an example of economic empowerment through input support and you will find not even one person despite billions of dollars having being religiously pumped on the strategy since independence in 1964,” Mr. Sinkamba said.
“That’s why, as the Green Party, we think that this strategy is worthless. It needs a serious rethink. Put simply, we are wasting billions of dollars on a worthless poor man’s crop. We need to start thinking outside the box invest in high value crops which can realistically bring about economic empowerment to our people,” he added.
Mr. Sinkamba said there is no country in the world today which can be pointed at as having been prosperous from maize production.
“There is no nation in the world which is prosperous for maize production despite the crop having been cultivated religiously for last 10,000 years or so. The major producer of maize in the world is the United States followed by China and Brazil where it is produced at commercial scale largely for pigs and other livestock markets. It is not a crop for small scale producers because it ends up impoverishing them if they depend on it for human consumption and economic empowerment,” he said.
Mr. Sinkamba said the average price of maize per tonne on the international market is US$210 per metric tonne which is equivalent to 20 by 50 kg bags. He said an average villager produces about 20 bags per season, which is equivalent to one tonne.
“Subtract 10 bags from the 20 bags produced, which every household in a village household requires for food security per year, this leaves you with 10 bags for economic empowerment. In monetary terms using global market prices, this works out to be US$105. The question is: can someone live on US$105 for the whole year? Mind you, the poverty datum line is one dollar per day or in other words, US$365 dollars per year. So the net income for subsistence farmers in the village is less than half the international poverty datum line. Even if the price of maize is increased threefold from K65, that makes no difference in terms of poverty statistics and thresholds. These are hard facts and it is the reason we call maize a poor man’s crop,” he said.
Issued by the Green Party Media Team