While the maize price stand-off rages, the Food Reserve Agency (FRA) has only managed to buy 10% of its targeted 500 000 tons of maize, said a source within the agency. This is as the Zambia National Farmers’ Union (ZNFU) intensified calls on farmers to hold back their crop.
Last week, the deadlock between the FRA and ZNFU degenerated into a war of words, dashing hopes of a quick resolution. “At the most, we have bought between 40 000 and 50 000 50kg bags of maize,” said the source within the FRA.
According to the source, in previous years, the FRA would now be well above 50% of its target. This raised concerns that the agency’s cost for the marketing season will escalate, as it pays personnel more hours for doing less work.
The FRA is paying K60/50kg for white maize. This upset farmers who say the price is below production cost. Weeks of protracted negotiations over the price have ended in a deadlock.
“There is very little activity at our depots nationwide. This means we would be incurring more costs than in previous years,” the source said.
There has already been predictions of farmers abandoning maize production in the 2017/2018 farming season. This will threaten national food security, as prices rise because of a lack of supply.
According to experts, the full extent of the tumultuous marketing season will only become clear in the 2020 farming season.
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