Former Luanshya Member of Parliament Steve Chungu has charged that the current flour price of maize will discourage farmers from engaging in maize production.
The Food Reserve Agency (FRA) last month pegged its maize purchasing price for the 2022 Grain Marketing season at K160 per 50kg bag of white maize which translates to K10 increment from last year’s price for the commodity.
Announcing the buying price for Maize, Soya beans and Paddy rice in Lusaka, FRA Board Chairperson Kelvin Hambwezya said that the agency has also fixed the price of soya beans at K550 per 50kg bag from K500 last year and K200 per 40kg bag of paddy rice from K195 last year.
But Mr. Chungu said the flour price is not matching the high cost of farmer inputs such as fertiliser.
He predicted that many farmers will not plant maize during the 2022/2023 farming season because the maize production business has become unprofitable.
“The current flour price of maize after consulting many famers I believe is actually working against our government policy on Agriculture. In the next planting season, many farmers won’t go into maize production with the price at which they are selling maize today. The increase of K10 which is just the cost of an empty grain bag and going by the cost of our fertiliser and various farming inputs is having a very bad toll on the farmers to go back into the field and plant maize,” Mr. Chungu said.
The former Government Chief Whip has since urged the government to re-look into maize pricing.
Mr. Chungu wondered why the price of maize has remained low when other commodities are becoming expensive.
“Practically the Government should look into this. It is not working out well and I am appealing to the leadership of this country, the President and Ministers to relook into the plight of farmers now. Maize is the staple food for the poor Zambian, the only food that we know. If the farmers are not going to go back to the field and plant, let’s forget about having a good harvest in the 2022/2023 farming season. It is not working out for anyone. I know the reason why they have tried to maintain the low cost of our maize is to maintain the cost of mealie meal but economically it is not matching with the flow price of our maize. The flow price is not matching with the cost of maize production. Farmers have already invested in maize production and need to get value for their investment. Farmers work hard to produce maize being sold at a mockery price,” Mr. Chungu said.
He added that the New Dawn Government’s economic policies are not inspiring citizens.
Mr. Chungu said citizens had high hopes that the UPND leadership would drive Zambia to great heights.
He said Zambia at the moment is not going anywhere economically.
“We had high hopes that you can drive this country to great heights but so far I do not see Zambia going anywhere economically. We are killing this economy by going to bed with the IMF. We are killing this economy by giving tax holidays to mining companies. Can we relook at the mining tax as we come up with the 2023 National Budget to ensure that we benefit from minerals? Why should we deny Zambians a birthright of getting right taxes from mineral resources? Why should foreigners get free minerals from Zambia?”