Sources say ZNFU, FRA maize price negotiations have collapsed

Maize price negotiations between the Food Reserve Agency (FRA) and the Zambia National Farmers’ Union (ZNFU) have broken down with the union abandoning talks to pursue direct discussions with the Ministry of Agriculture.

A reliable source told that ZNFU at the weekend decided to talk to government directly, after the FRA stood by its offer of K60/50kg. “We decided to escalate the matter by engaging government directly through the Ministry of Agriculture to stabilise and strengthen the agricultural sector by ensuring farmers get a reasonable and fair return on their crop,” said the source.

Over the weekend, ZNFU repeated its call on farmers to refrain from selling their crop until an agreeable solution is found. Zambia has a bumper maize harvest of 3.6 million tons, but the marketing season has been tumultuous with prices dropping by more than 25% from a year ago.

Farmers are also battling to reach remote FRA depots, exacerbating the situation. This led to a backlash from various stakeholders who said the situation might lead to poor production in the new season.

“The decision by the FRA will disadvantage many farmers, and the adverse social and economic effect will be heavily felt by the majority of Zambians,” said Chanda Chileshe, programme officer at the Jesuit Centre for Theological Reflection (JCTR).

The Consumer Unit Trust Society (CUTS) asked government to consider other measures, like a social cash transfer, to cushion poor farmers.

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