Zambia’s tumultuous maize marketing season has taken a new twist with the Zambia National Farmers Union (ZNFU) urging farmers to hold back their crop. This followed the price offer of k60/50kg by the Food Reserve Agency (FRA).
Following the FRA, there has been national outrage among farmers and stakeholders in the agriculture sector.
ZNFU President Jervis Zimba said farmers would have no money to farm next season if they sold their maize at prevailing prices.
“There is need for a balanced price of maize which will benefit farmers. Therefore, I’m urging farmers countrywide to hold on to their maize until we meet with FRA to review the price of the commodity, Zimba said.
He also said this low price is an act of injecting poverty on farmers and sets a bad tone to the season.
Zambia this year recorded a bumper harvest of 3.6 million tons but the prices for the crop have dipped due to higher production in the Southern African region. This left the majority of the smallholder producers with the option of selling to FRA as they did not have the logistical capacity and volumes to export to East African markets. The prolonged drought there has made the region attractive for grain exports.
Zimba said the decision by FRA had given risen to a situation where grain traders were alleged forcing farmers to sell them maize at k35/50kg. According to him, this practice was widespread in Eastern and Southern provinces.
He said the breakeven price in the current season was calculated at K75/50kg.
“The FRA’s price of K60/50kg is far too short of the cost of production which is calculated at K75/50kg,” Zimba said.