Lungu, planting; maize; exports; millers; pests

Zambian producers face tumultuous maize marketing season

Zambian maize producers are facing a tumultuous crop marketing season. This after government this week announced that it will not set the floor price for maize.

Zambian Agriculture Minister Dora Siliya said government will offer its price through the Food Reserve Agency (FRA) while other buyers are free to set their own prices.

Although farmers pushed for years for a liberalised maize marketing regime, they have now raised concerns about the abrupt introduction of the system.

Farmers interviewed by said the sudden introduction of liberal pricing will compound the difficulties producers already face. This include a slew of taxes.

“Ordinarily, this will be good news but there was no preparation or consultation about the sudden switch. This puts small farmers like myself in a difficult situation,” says Alfred Mweene, a farmer of Lusaka’s 10 Miles.

Farmer Dauti Nkhoma said the decision left many farmers vulnerable to so-called aggressive private grain buyers.

“As you know, farming is like being in fast-moving consumer goods where aggressive pricing is the norm. We have now been thrown in a disruptive market where the sharks will eat the small fish,” he said.

Others farmers took to social media to raise concerns on what they describe as “chaotic” maize marketing.

“We are now being forced to cheaply sell our maize on the black market where we are getting as little as K40/50kg,” Godfrey Ngambi tweeted.

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