Zambian maize producers shun the Food Reserve Agency

The buying of maize by the Food Reserve Agency (FRA) in Zambia took off to a slow start with maize farmers holding back their crop. It is also reported that farmers are forming cooperatives for the purpose of seeking export markets.

Several farmers told that they have heeded a call by the Zambia National Farmers Union (ZNFU) not to sell their crop until the K60/50kg offer by the FRA was reviewed.

On Tuesday, the FRA started buying maize and soya at 760 depots scattered nationwide. It was expected to buy 500,000 tons of maize, 20,00 tons of soya bean and 2,100 tons of paddy rice.

FRA depot coordinators who wished to remain anonymous, said there was a general reluctance by farmers to take their crop to depots. “I have less than 50 bags, and a couple of inquiries about the period of payment for maize,” said one coordinator in Muchinga province.

Similarly, farmers in other provinces, including Southern, Eastern, Central and Copperbelt, were reluctant to sell their crop to FRA. “The people here have rejected the K60 for 50kg by FRA. They were going to sell if the price was at K75 and above,” said a Southern Province-based depot coordinator.

Meanwhile farmers are mobilising themselves into cooperatives to build their capacity to take on international markets. Choma District Cooperative Development in Southern Province claims that it has attracted hundreds of farmers who have deposited their crop with them.

“Zambia has a liberalised market, this should encourage farmers to work together to increase their bargaining power,” said Steadwell Munacikube, a farmer of Choma.

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