There is widespread fury among Zambian grain traders, including the state-owned Food Reserve Agency (FRA), over a maize levy imposed by local authorities.
Farmers also oppose the levy, saying it will lower the price of maize in the upcoming marketing season.
Ministry of Local Government permanent secretary Amos Malupenga told local media FRA refuses to pay the grain levy, because it is a strategic institution for national food security.
Malupenga believes FRA’s argument is moot, as it exports maize and trades with millers, making it a commercial entity which must pay the levy.
“We are now working on amendments to get statutory bodies such as FRA to pay the grain levy,” he said.
The levy is pegged at K0.90 per 50kg bag.
The Agricultural Products Levy Act provided for councils to impose and collect levies on maize and animal products. According to the Act, the minister of local government can withdraw or suspend the levy in part or completely at any time.
Accordingly, it was canned a few years back following opposition from farmers. It was re-introduced this year.
The rekindled vehement opposition by the Zambian National Farmers Union (ZNFU).
ZNFU president Jervis Zimba says the levy, coupled with a 10% export duty on maize, will make it impossible for farmers to get acceptable prices for their crop.