Zambia’s Food Reserve Agency (FRA) is short of 22 000 tons of its targeted 500 000 strategic maize, said Ministry of Agriculture Permanent Secretary Julius Shawa.
Shawa said the buying deadline that lapsed yesterday has been extended for some days to make up for the shortfall.
“We are urging farmers to take advantage of the extension of the crop marketing season to sell their maize to the FRA,” he said.
The crop marketing season started in June, and the FRA offered to buy at K60 per 50 kg bag of maize, much to the chagrin of farmers who complained that the offer was below production cost.
Protracted negotiations between the Zambia National Farmers Union (ZNFU) ended in a stalemate, leading to a call by the union on farmers to hold back their crop until the price improved.
Shawa reiterated that farmers were also free sell their produce to other buyers for the best price. However, government assurances about free market forces are unlikely to allay the concerns of farmers.
According to ZNFU, farmers were likely to shun the crop due to poor returns.