Troubling times ahead for Zambian farmers

Farming is becoming more difficult and challenging in the weakening Zambian economy, with farmers’ unions warning about difficult times ahead.

Farmers at the annual general meetings of the Mkushi District Farmers Association (DFA) and the Chisamba DFA, said various worrisome factors currently had a negative influence:

“Farmers will remain poor as it is becoming difficult for farming to make economic sense in the country,” the ZNFU recently stated in their weekly brief.

At the meetings (19th and 20th of October), farmers were particularly worried about difficulties and challenges in the beef sector.

“This is mainly due to the fluctuation of the Zambian Kwacha against the US Dollar, the lower rainfall of the past season, low prices, the high cost of production, the high inflation rate and the high occurrence of cattle theft,” the ZNFU brief said.

Adding to farmers’ misery is the recent steep increase of 34% in the fuel price.

“[It] will significantly increase the cost of production and reduce the net income because agricultural commodity prices do not increase in line with the increase of production costs and as a result are far below import parity prices.”

Mr Nico de Kock, Chairperson of the Mkushi DFA, also emphasized the need to reduce the cost of doing business and to reduce unnecessary road blocks.

During the meeting farmers also called for representation of the ZNFU on the WARMA(Water Resources Management Authority) since farmers are unnecessarily penalized through “unfriendly policies.”

Other factors that were named:

  • The 15% increase in labour wages,
  • The expected increase in electricity tariffs by as much as 200%, especially if it is not implemented in phases,
  • Recurrent and various grain and livestock levies in different districts, adding to the financial pressure on farmers,
  • Persistent import of poultry meat by chain stores that outcompetes local small scale farmers “when the country is more than sufficient to supply the domestic and export market.”
  • Low wheat contract prices offered by millers.
  • New regulations under the Zambian Medicine Regulations act, affecting the livestock value chain.

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