Zambia National Farmers’ Union (ZNFU) president Jervis Zimba is cautioning that farmers will dump maize cultivation in the next farming season. His warning comes as the Food Reserve Agency (FRA) insists that its offer of K60/50kg for maize is final.
“This will have dire consequences for national food security as farmers are likely to abandon growing maize,” Zimba said. ZNFU and the FRA were locked in protracted negotiations, before the FRA yesterday announced that it will not increase its offer.
According to ZNFU, farmers who aren’t part of the Farmer Input Support Programme (FISP) face bankruptcy, while it will take a number of years for maize production to recover. “Of the 3.6 million tons harvested this year, 1.4 million tons came from farmers supported by FISP, while the bulk came from farmers who used their own resources or borrowed money to finance the production of 2.2 million tons,” Zimba said.
He said there is no reason for the FRA to insist on its current offer, when countries in the region with similar conditions are paying K110-K190 for maize. “The effects of farmers abandoning the cultivation of maize will begin to show by 2020/’21. We are saying there is still time to correct the situation before the nation is plunged in a food crisis,” Zimba said.
Zambia’s maize marketing season got off to a bumpy start after it was decided to pursue a liberal pricing policy following decades of state-fixed pricing. The agricultural community reacted with mixed feelings: farmers are outraged while others in the sector believe liberal pricing will in future create a more stable and sustainable grain market.
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