The Zambia National Farmers Union (ZNFU) told farmers to brace for poor maize prices. According to ZNFU, government interference in maize marketing, coupled with indirect taxes, are contributing to expected depressed grain prices.
The warning comes amidst reports of farmers in some parts of Zambia selling maize for as low as K50 per 50kg bag to private buyers.
“This year will be full of challenges because prices will be poor,” said ZNFU president Jervis Zimba.
In the union’s Weekly Brief, Zimba said continued government interference in the marketing of maize will continue to negatively affect prices.
Zimba said a mooted 10% tax on maize exports, grain levies introduced by local authorities and toll fees will push up the cost of inputs.
“This season farmers will make nothing,” he said.
Currently there is a government moratorium on maize exports. Farmers see this as a missed opportunity to fetch good prices for maize from neighbouring countries where demand is high. Zambia has an estimated 1 million tons of stockpiled maize it needs to clear before the new season starts.
On reports of farmers selling maize at low prices, Zimba said desperation drove them to offload grain to so-called briefcase buyers.
“Such levels of desperation could even see farmers exchanging their produce for second-hand clothes,” he said.
He advised farmers against rushing to sell their maize, and suggested they wait for favourable prices.