Diversification of Zambia’s Agriculture Sector will remain a dream as long as farmers do not have a ready market for other crops other than maize, Soya Beans and Rice, the Civil Society Scaling Up Nutrition Alliance has observed.
CSO-SUN Country Coordinator Mathews Mhuru has observed that market linkages are key components of ensuring that farmers have markets for their produce hence the need for the Food Reserve Agency to include other crops on the list of crops it is buying from farmers.
Mr. Mhuru has noted with concern that Government through the Food Reserve Agency has continued to provide market for Maize, Soya Beans and Rice which defeats the drive for crop diversification.
He said markets play a fundamental role in influencing what farmers grow and hence the lack of it for other crops has seen Zambia continue on the path of maize.
Mr. Mhuru added “As a country that is grappling to end malnutrition, there is strong need to provide a diversified market to include other crops such as millet, groundnuts, beans and Sorghum among others that have a higher nutritional value.
He has however commended Private Sector players such as Zambian Breweries who have been providing market for crops such as Barley and Cassava for the production of beer.
Meanwhile, Mr. Mhuru has described the K110 maize price announced by the Food Reserve Agency as rip-off that will make peasant farmers poorer.
He noted that government should have offered a higher price compared to the K140 that private buyers were offering farmers.
Mr. Mhuru noted that the K110 maize floor price is very low compared to the cost of production which has remained high and has since appealed to President Edgar Lungu to again intervene and consider offering poor farmers a better price.