The Food Reserve Agency (FRA) today in Lusaka announced it will buy maize from farmers at K60 for 50kg. The price offer, flying in the face of the more than K85/50kg government promised last week, provoked sharp reaction from the Zambia National Farmers’ Union (ZNFU).
At the same briefing, FRA said it will buy soya bean at K120/50kg and paddy rice at K70/40kg.
FRA Executive Director Chola Kafwabulula said the offers were set to match the increased operating costs of the agency. According to him, costs escalated after the reduction of satellite depots from 1 223 to 760.
Kafwabulula made no mention of last week’s statement by Agricultural Permanent Secretary Julius Shawa that the agency will offer farmers more than last’s year’s K85/50kg.
He was quick to call on the private sector to help fill gaps left by the reduced number of depots.
“We expect the private sector to step into the areas that will be left out of the FRA purchasing outlets,” he said.
FRA is expected to buy 500 000 tons of maize, 20 00 tons of soya bean and 2 100 tons of paddy rice. Buying starts in the first week of August.
ZNFU President Jervis Zimba said the development cast a bleak outlook on the agricultural sector.
“This is disappointing, and a huge blow for the hardworking farmers who incurred high costs of production for the nation to get the bumper harvest it got,” Zimba said.
He said it is impossible to improve agricultural production if farmers can’t sustain themselves.
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