Zambian farmers are holding back their soya bean as they seek fair prices for their crop. At the same time the Small-scale Farmers Development Agency (SAFADA) has called on government to formulate policy to insulate local producers against price volatility caused by dumping.
Scores of farmers interviewed by Africanfarming.com said it made no economic sense to sell at K2.35/kg. This while soya bean production this year increased to 351 000 tons from 267 490.
Soya bean offers a variety of potential benefits to production systems, diets, and the incomes of smallholder producers. In addition, the crop has the agronomic benefit of rejuvenating soil by fixing atmospheric nitrogen in the soil and decaying root residues improve soil fertility.
At industrial level, soya bean is processed into edible oils, with the by-product (cake) acting as a high quality protein source for livestock feed rations. “The best option is to hold on to the crop until market prices improve,” said Bupe Njelesani, a farmer of Kasama, Northern Province.
Other farmers echoed his sentiments and urged producers to form a united front to ensure they get better prices.
SAFADA Director Boyd Moobwe said the flooding of the Zambian market with cheap, imported edible oils reduced the uptake of soya bean by local processors.
“Cheap imported cooking oils have flooded the local market, making it difficult for local producers to sell their products,” Moobwe said. According him, the prevailing low prices are exacerbated by agro-dealers who are allegedly buying the crop cheaply from farmers and selling it for more on the international market.
Moobwe said this trend of crop marketing is counter-intuitive to the diversification of the economy through agriculture.
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