This year’s crop marketing will kick off on June 1, 2017 and close on October 31, 2017.
This announcement by the Food Reserve Agency’s (FRA) caused consternation among farmers who are unclear about whether the liberal marketing approach will be in force as announced by government late last year.
FRA said it will restrict itself to purchasing maize and paddy rice at 1 000 satellite depots opening in 105 districts.
The agency will buy a minimum of 500 000 tons of maize and 2 100 tons of paddy rice.
“Farmers shall deliver their crops to designated satellite depots which will be operated by FRA representatives as buying agents. The agents will inspect the quality and quantity and issue appropriate documentation to farmers as evidence of the transaction,” FRA said.
It said “farmers shall present a Produce Received and Certification Note or its equivalent and their national registration card to designated local banks or financial institutions to receive payment.”
“The FRA may consider alternative payment methods that may be convenient for farmers that supply crops as such need should arise.”
Many farmers are concerned about the pricing of crops, as the FRA announcement made no mention of the price it will purchase the crop at from farmers.
“This is pretty confusing because we were told last year that farmers will set the price for their crop,” said one farmer who spoke on condition of anonymity.
The Zambia National Farmers Union (ZNFU) is yet to respond to a media enquiry on the matter.