Zambian President Edgar Lungu says he will not dictate the review of the current price of K60/50kg being offered by the Food Reserve Agency (FRA) for white maize, but will consult his cabinet to come up with an amicable solution.
“I have heard the cry of stakeholders over the price of maize and I will engage cabinet over the matter,” Lungu said in response to questions from journalists on when a new price for grain will be announced.
However, this did little to assuage farmers’ concerns, as the marketing season closes next month.
“I was hoping that the price will be announced sooner rather than later because the marketing season is almost halfway,” said Fred Mambo, a small-scale farmer of Lusaka.
The sentiment is widespread among farmers, after Lungu last week assured farmers that the current FRA price for white maize will be reviewed.
Previously, he refused pleas from farmers and other stakeholders to intervene in the pricing issue, but urged FRA and ZNFU to reach a win-win solution.
However, the parties’ negotiations deadlocked and eventually collapsed.
Following the breakdown in talks, ZNFU asked farmers to hold back their crop until prices improved. This increased concerns that farmers might abandon maize in the next farming season, after a bumper harvest was recorded this year.
FRA hopes to buy 500 000 tons of maize during this year’s marketing season, a scaled-down version in quantity and price from previous years.
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