CSPR Raises Concerns over Exclusion of Soya Beans in 2023 FRA Crop Marketing Arrangement

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The Civil Society for Poverty Reduction (CSPR) has expressed its concerns over the exclusion of soya beans as a cash crop in the 2023 Crop Marketing Arrangements by the Food Reserve Agency (FRA). The organization commends the Zambian government for increasing the price of white maize, which will benefit farmers facing hardships and low supply due to climate change impacts. However, CSPR believes that the exclusion of soya beans contradicts the government’s efforts to promote the crop and diversify the agricultural sector.

Soya beans are a significant cash crop in Zambia, with demand driven by the fast-growing poultry sector. The government has been actively promoting soya beans among small-scale farmers, even including it in the Farmer Input Support Program (FISP), which aims to improve livelihoods and enhance food security. The crop’s importance is reflected in its provision of one 25-kilogram bag in the FISP, highlighting its role in supporting vulnerable populations.

The government’s commitment to diversifying the economy through increased participation in various sectors, including agriculture, is outlined in the Eighth National Development Plan. Cash crops such as cotton, cashew nuts, soya beans, cassava, sunflower, and rice have received attention and support. Studies have shown that soya beans production contributed 4.8 percent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2017.

The CSPR emphasizes that the exclusion of soya beans in the FRA’s purchasing plans has caught farmers off guard, as many had planted the crop in anticipation of selling it to the agency. Ideally, the government should have provided prior notice to allow farmers to make informed choices for the farming season. Moreover, the memorandum of understanding signed with the Republic of China on stevia exports does not favor small-scale farmers, as most of them do not grow stevia, benefiting only commercial farmers.

By focusing solely on maize and paddy rice, the FRA’s decision leaves farmers at the mercy of private entities, potentially leading to exploitation and increased poverty among small-holder farmers. This move may also encourage mono-cropping, reducing the diversity of crops and impacting nutritional value at both household and national levels. It contradicts the government’s promotion of environmental sustainability and sustainable agriculture, as outlined in the Eighth National Development Plan.

Soya beans offer several economic, social, and environmental benefits. Zambia’s geographical location allows for the export of soya beans and processed soya bean products to regional markets, contributing to economic growth. The government should create a conducive environment for small-scale farmers to export their soya beans, aligning with initiatives such as the Comprehensive Agricultural Transformative Support Programme (CATSP) introduced in the 2023 Budget speech. This program aims to promote diversification, value addition, and job creation in the agri-food sector, with a focus on exports.

CSPR warns that the government’s exclusive focus on maize purchasing may not lead to increased production and productivity in the agriculture sector. This decision could have dire consequences for both the economy and the environment. The organization calls on the government to reconsider its stance and include soya beans as a cash crop in the 2023 Crop Marketing Arrangements, in line with its commitment to diversification and sustainable agricultural practices.

2 COMMENTS

  1. So far this is the best analysis on the soya dilemma from an NGO in Zambia. CSPR have highlighted the many areas that have fallen short with govt not buying Soya Beans from Farmers this year. The govt must change their decision and begin to buy soya beans, then the FRA itself must offload that soya beans to third party buyers as it is very difficult for farmers to get export permits due to logistical and financial reasons. Let the govt do the right thing and start to buy soya beans with immediate effect.

  2. The Food Reserve Agency and the Ministry of Agriculture can easily ascertain Zambia’s annual soya consumption with a small redundancy above that and then export the excess crop. The FRA has what’s known as a good problem in policy circles.

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