With only a week before the close of the maize marketing season, Zambian farmers are selling their crop in panic.
This while the Food Reserve Agency (FRA) said it won’t extend grain buying beyond the end of the month, when the marketing season closes.
A survey conducted by Africanfarming.com showed a spike in maize sales, despite low prices of between K35 and K60 for a 50kg bag. Southern and Eastern Provinces recorded the highest sales, followed by Central, Copperbelt, Muchinga Provinces.
“Most farmers who were initially reluctant to sell their maize are now rushing to our depots before the marketing season ends,” said an FRA depot manager who spoke on condition of anonymity.
Zambia recorded a bumper harvest of 3.6 million tons of maize. So did most other countries in the region. This led to a drop in the price of maize, with FRA buying at K60/50kg, compared to last year’s K85. Exacerbating the situation is a price stand-off between FRA and the Zambia National Farmers’ Union (ZNFU). The union called on farmers to hold back their crop until the price increased.
Meanwhile, FRA Executive Director Chola Kafwabulula said his organisation can buy the 500 000 tons of maize Zambia needed for strategic reserves. “We have almost reached our target. I’m urging farmers to bring their crop to our depots because there will be no extension of grain buying,” Chola said.
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