Opposition Party of National Unity and Progress (PNUP) President Highvie Hamududu has said he hopes the announced maize price for the 2023 crop marketing season is cost reflective for majority farmers in the country.
The Food Reserve Agency (FRA) on Wednesday announced that it will be buying a 50 kilogramme bag of maize at K280.
This year’s maize price is an increase above last year’s 180 Kwacha per 50 kilogramme bag of maize.
FRA Board Chairperson Kelvin Hambwezya announced that the agency’s 2023 maize price at a media briefing today in Lusaka saying the decision was arrived at considering the maize prices pertaining in the region.
Commenting on the new crop prices, Mr. Hamududu said farmers need cost reflective prices to increase production.
He further advocated that FRA starts announcing crop prices before the farming season so that farmers make informed decisions on production beforehand.
Mr. Humududu said the trend of announcing selected crop prices by government through its agency, the Food Reserve Agency (FRA)after the farming season is not right and must be changed.
The economist and former Bweengwa Member of Parliament said profitable agriculture is the fastest way to create jobs and fight poverty.
“Announce indicative crop prices before farming season and reform overall agriculture policy.The tradition of announcing selected crop prices by government through its agency, the Food Reserve Agency, FRA, after the farming season is not right and must be changed, as it is an ambush on the farmers since farmers will have already produced. There is need for FRA to announce indicative crop prices of their interest before the farming season so that farmers make informed decisions on production beforehand.Prices are the biggest incentive for any production including farming. Farmers need cost reflective prices to increase production and as long as we suppress producer prices in agriculture, we must forget increasing production as farming is not charity but business,” Mr. Hamududu said.
“Policy makers in government must also understand that profitable agriculture is the fastest way to create jobs and fight poverty and income inequalities; and easily earn foreign exchange through exports, since over 70 percent of our citizens are involved in this sector. Agriculture has the lowest hanging fruits to improve the welfare our of people and grow the economy and must, therefore, be given evidence-based policy interventions and facilitation by government.We hope the announced Maize of K280 per 50kg bag is cost reflective for the majority of our farmers,” he said.
Meanwhile, FRA Board Chairperson Kelvin Hambwezya said the new crop prices are a reflective of the cost of production.
“The agency has endeavored among other
things to analyse the cost of production for the designated.Crops indicated above and therefore, prices to be announced today are reflective of the cost of production and specific to what the agency will be offering. Please note that other players in the sector are urged to buy these crops as the prices to be announced are not floor prices but rather FRA prices under the principle of willing seller and willing buyer.In setting these crop prices, the agency expects accrued benefits to farmers in that: -(I) farmers will be provided with a readily available market access closer to their localities through the 1,200 satellite depots to be established countrywide; (ii) farmers will get a reward for their labour which will entail more money in their pockets; (iii) there will be stimulation and growth of rural economies for farmers as well as local service this stimulus will enable farmers to adequately prepare for the upcoming agricultural season and
Further be motivated to increase crop production for the country’s food security taking into consideration the increased national population.You will note that related to the economic stimulus and growth of rural economies, last year, in 2022 the agency bought designated crops worth k2.2 billion of which about 72 % was paid to farmers in outlying areas.I further wish to state that in arriving at the determined prices for 2023, the agency acknowledged the urgent need to
Replenish the strategic grain reserves from a dynamic grain market obtaining locally and in the region.It is anticipated that the agency prices shall not disadavantage the private sector who are expected to purchase a larger share of the agricultural produce. As you ay know, the fra purchase share has averaged 20% of maize,” Mr. Hambwezya said.