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Alba Iulia
Monday, February 24, 2020

Maize is a poor mans crop – Sinkamba

Economy Feature Economy Maize is a poor mans crop - Sinkamba

Peasant Farmers transporting bags of Maize to the FRA Shem satellite depot in Isoka.

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
26 July,2018

[Read 303 times, 1 reads today]


  1. Great analysis by Sinkamba here. Now I understand why you have a point: maize is indeed a poor man’s crop.

    • But why Heritage, Green Party, and Socialist Party not fielding any local government candidates.
      I have too many party cards, I need to keep only 2.

    • Here on LT it was reported last week that Greens will not participate in by-elections because these elections have become costly for nothing. They said they would rather fund-raise for 2021 than by-elections. I agree with their reasoning. Politics of the belly is the order of the day in bye-elections lately

    • Stunted growth, stunted brain syndrome which affects most adult Zambians is caused by eating a mountain of Nshima with 1 tiny piece of relish. Average weight of Zambian adults is now 35-Kg, height 1.3-metres.

      Because they have stunted brains, their voting decisions are poor/low-IQ and they end up voting on tribal, emotional reasons like one candidate is “humble” & the other candidate is a Tonga, a sata.nist. Becoz they vote for wrong leaders, their brain-damaging Big-Nshima based diet will continue. It’s a vicious cycle.

    • @ maloza: You are so funny truly made me laugh. Mountain of Nsima with a Tiny piece of Relish “is it Meat of RePU” Adult at weighing 35 kgs and 1.3M? You Crazy…
      Facts though, and the article has lots of factors to it. Sinkamba Hit the Nail right on the Head. Maize is just to labour Intense. We should just plant it for our Nsima, not as a poverty reduction strategy.

  2. Yes this is a complicated matter. Mistake was made at the beginning. Efforts should have been made to improve on the regional staples.

    • I buy vote buying today, but let me taking on aba Green.
      I per $40 for 10 lbs or 5 kg bag of corn. Tumusebanya.
      Bushe Sinkamba eat ubwali or he eats rice only? I eat nshima I know maize is expensive product.
      I don’t smoke, give us marijuana’s international price index kaili.
      Something wrong in this Green party economics.
      Ichi drum cha oil is only $42 as per yesterday.

    • Malawi is a good example of maize creating poverty. They neglected their tea for maize, poverty has sky rocketed, same with our own southern province, we neglected the indigenous breeds for the hybrids, now the province is barren,

    • Come to think of it: A 25kg bag of mealie meal is k80 or $8. One bottle of castle light is k10 or $1. One bottle of mosi beer is k8. So, a bag of mealie meal is worth only 10 castle light beers or 12 mosi beers.

      This goes to show how cheap maize and mealie meal are: less than an average daily beer spree expense! It is so cheap as a commodity yet labour intensive…..Sinkamba has a point

    • How much does it cost to do one hectare of maize and how many 50kg bags can one expect to harvest, on average, from the same?

    • 2.3 I get surprised each time I pay my domestic that he buys lager without complaining but when it comes to a bag of mealie meal he’s got a myriad complaints. How did we rich this stage where we give priority to beer.

    • Zambia in the Sun: Correct! So why not add value to it, to build on the hard work rather than undermine it? If that isn’t possible and there is genuinely something better, by all means try switching to that. Otherwise we should enable people to build on what they have, even it it is little. That is the real way out of poverty!

  3. kikikikikikiki I Iike this: “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.”

  4. Value addition is the solution. Large scale farmers don’t grow maize to sell to FRA, they instead produce stockfeed for their livestock. ZNFU must work at creating systems that will work for their members now and in future. If all there members can contribute to NAPSA, they can get space in NAPSA malls with contributions as security, then setup Mills and use malls as outlets. Africa Supermarkets is a consortium of farmers, no wonder they don’t buy anything anyhow. They promote mostly what their members produce

  5. Excellent analysis, to make matters worse, they engage the likes of Dora slit to be in charge of the agriculture ministry with no iota or clue on farming. We have people with brains in this country like Sinkamba but we put misfit, cadres, bootlickers and nincompoops is strategic positions are expect miracles to happen? The so called e-voucher is a conduit for siphoning money from the treasury and the farmer is left with nothing despite having paid for the inputs. To add salt to injury, inputs are only distributed in January, how ironic. Even if the price is K100 nothing much will change going by this analysis. Lets try soya, rice and other cash crops instead.

  6. In my opinion, it is not maize growing that is the cause of poverty. The scale of production is the problem. You can grow high value cash crops but if they are grown on a small scale poverty will persist. Here is the evidence for my argument; cotton is a high value cash crop grown for decades by small scale farmers in Malambo in Eastern province. Poverty persist because of small scale just like in maize production. Tobacco a high value cash crop has been grown by small scale farmers in Eastern province and Malawi but poverty persists. While I agree with diversifying production, I don’t agree with the wholesale condemnation of maize as cause of poverty. Even if you diversify to cassava, rice, millet or potatoes, poverty will continue among farmers if this will not be done to scale as…

    • You must differentiate between a cash crop and a high value crop. What Sinkamba is talking about is high value crops. Maize and cotton are both cash crops but not high value crop. In fact in terms of value, maize is of higher value than cotton. So your Malambo example is neither here nor there

    • Very true! We need wholesome political commitment to map the way forward to achieve this long-term endeavor.

  7. Wabeya Umbeshi, could you give an example of high value cash crops that small scale farmers should grow to reduce poverty? You just singled out cotton in my example and did not comment on tobacco. Isn’t tobacco a high value crop? Has beans a high value crop grown by small scale farmers in North Western Province reduced poverty in that region? My point is that instead of wholesale condemnation of a crop, we should look at other factors that could contribute to non eradication of poverty. Scale of production could be one such.

  8. Lets not lose the point.

    The submission is that though billions of dollars have been spent on FISP and subsidised fertiliser for maize farmers, point out ONE farmer who is a beneficiary of FISP that has pulled himself out of poverty ?

    Maize is a poor mans crop.

    i disagree. South Africa produces 4 times the maize we do. Its in the hands of large white farmers. They are NOT poor. Neither are the corn farmers in the USA.

    In Zambia, in exchange for the free/subsidised inputs, the peasant farmer is forced to sell his maize at a regulated price. The price is manipulated through the FRA floor price. This is what politicians require to keep their voters happy.

    If a “fair” world market price was paid to farmers, they would surely not be wallowing in poverty.

    In his…

  9. Poor people are not stupid; they do not have that luxury. They do what they can to survive and if they can survive on maize, we need to support them. Also what are branded items like Doritos made from, and who consumes them? A farmers maize collective with the right support could feed themselves with maize and use any surplus to produce higher value products like tortilla chips to compete with products like Doritos. Why not?

  10. excellent analysis president sinkamba maize has indeed failed many people u can’t tackle poverty based on maize farming

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