Government’s silence on the floor price of maize has created turmoil among farmers. The marketing season opens tomorrow. Government also maintains that the 10% export duty for raw maize will not be waived.
Random interviews conducted by Africanfarming.com showed that farmers are still relying on the Food Reserve Agency (FRA) to buy their crop. But the lack of an official floor price allows private grain traders to buy maize cheaply from desperate farmers.
This prompted traditional leaders to ask government to quickly announce the floor price to halt the alleged predatory practices of private grain buyers, known as briefcase businessmen.
“Do not sell your maize to unscrupulous buyers, but wait until government sets the appropriate floor price,” urged Chief Chikanta of Kalomo district in Southern Province. Chief Chikanta’s sentiments were echoed by several chiefs and headmen.
Government hasn’t reacted to media enquiries on whether it will set the floor price for maize or allow liberal pricing.
Zambia expected to harvest 3.6 million tons of maize this year, a 25% increase from last year.
On the 10% maize export duty, Agriculture Minister Dora Siliya maintains that the tax is necessary to encourage value-addition and local job creation.
The Zambia National Farmers Union (ZNFU), however, believes the export duty will make Zambian grain noncompetitive on the export market.