Maize price negotiations between the Zambia National Farmers Union (ZNFU) and Food Reserve Agency (FRA) have stalled, say sources close to the talks. Meanwhile the grain buying exercise by FRA was still running at a slow pace.
According to the sources, lengthy negotiations took place over the weekend but the two parties were far from finding common ground to move forward.
“The argument by ZNFU that the price offer by FRA is not cost reflective is well known while on the other side FRA is contending that its operational costs have skyrocketed,” said one source who spoke on condition of anonymity.
According to the sources, further talks were expected to be held this week as FRA requested to refer the matter to its board.
This was confirmed by a joint media statement: “After a lengthy deliberation, the FRA management pledged to call for an urgent board meeting to present the farmer’s position and a final decision will be announced within the course of this week.”
Last week ZNFU told farmers to hold on to their maize until the price impasse with FRA was resolved. FRA was offering K60/50kg of white maize.
Zambia expected to harvest 3.6 million tons of maize this years, a 25% increase from last year. However, the marketing season has been chaotic with local prices having dropped due to an over-supply while export markets had proved hard to crack.
Meanwhile, farmers continued to shun FRA depots holding out for a positive resolution.
In the mean time, Zambian president, Edgar Lungu, distanced himself from the process in which the maize price was set by the FRA – he said he had “nothing to do with it”. He was speaking while taking a tour of the 91 st Agriculture and Commercial Show in Lusaka over the weekend. He said at the farmers should make use of liberal markets and export their surplus maize.
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