Lungu, planting; maize; exports; millers; pests

Lungu to intervene in maize price impasse

President Edgar Lungu has assured farmers that the price of K60/50kg for white maize being offered by the Food Reserve Agency (FRA), will be reviewed. The president’s statement comes after he for months refused to be drawn on the deadlock. The Zambia National Farmers’ Union (ZNFU) welcomed the statement.

“President Lungu is concerned with farmers’ challenge to sell maize to the FRA at a low price, but assured them that the matter will be relooked,” said his Special Assistant for Press and Public Relations, Amos Chanda.

The announcement came yesterday, after a delegation of bishops from the Evangelical Fellowship of Zambia (EFZ) met with Lungu.

Previously, the president refused pleas from farmers and other stakeholders to intervene in the maize 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.

ZNFU President Jervis Zimba said the president’s intervention gave farmers hope that some of their losses might be salvaged.

“We are happy that the president heeded the cry of farmers. Agribusiness is at its lowest point,” he said.

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