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Farmers should’nt wait for FRA to buy maize

WE COMMEND the government for announcing the quantity of maize the Food Reserve Agency (FRA) will buy this marketing season.
Minister of Agriculture and Livestock Given Lubinda is reported to have told Zambia National Broadcasting Corporation on Sunday, when he appeared on the Sunday Interview, that Government will buy 450,000 metric tonnes of maize at a cost of K992 million.
The announcement is good, as it is timely. It will motivate farmers to sell their maize produce to private buyers considering that this is a free market.
Government is a major player in the agriculture sector, especially in the purchase of maize.
But it is important to realise that government’s role is principally to provide an enabling environment so that all the players, especially private buyers ranging from millers to brewers and private individuals can compete favourably and equitably.
To farmers, selling maize on the free market will benefit them severally. They will be paid on the spot unlike situations in which they have had to wait for several months before being paid by FRA.
This will enable them to re-invest in their agricultural businesses and sort out a myriad of their financial obligations such as sending children to school.
Timely payment for maize is one thing not to be over-emphasised seeing that farmers put in a lot to produce food and that they, like other entrepreneurs, should be able to make a profit.
Farmers are likely to benefit by selling their maize to private buyers other than FRA because they will be able to recoup their investments and use the proceeds wisely than wait for payments from the agency, which is usually delayed.
We know that the FRA is many a farmer’s priority buyer but it can only buy so much and is likely to take a bit of time in making payment for their commodity.
For instance, FRA will only purchase 450,000 metric tonnes because that is what it has budgeted for, according to Mr Lubinda.
So, who buys the rest of the grain on the market?
There should be no anxiety among farmers because there are many buyers.
Besides, the minister anticipates that there will be an increase in the price of maize and mealie-meal, as there is high demand for the commodities in the region.
We are pleased that Government has declared that it will not intervene in the price of maize, which will work ultimately for the good of farmers as they will be able to set best prices for their produce.
Additionally, it is very pleasant that government will not announce the floor price because it is not its policy to do so.
That Government has not yet announced the price for maize should not worry farmers.
Farmers and grain buyers have an idea as to how much the maize will fetch based on last year’s ceiling of K70 so farmers are at liberty to sell their maize at the best possible prices.
This, we must say, is a golden opportunity for farmers to make money. It presents them a broader and surer market for their commodity and we believe they will make the most of this opportunity.
We encourage farmers to be on guard against those who may want to undermine their hardwork and worth by coaxing them to sell their maize at mockingly low prices. Farmers’ maize represents their sweat, and so they should realise proper money from it.
We similarly urge private buyers not to take advantage of the delay by the FRA in announcing its price for maize and rip farmers off. Private buyers should deal fairly in a manner pleasing to all.
Government’s undertaking to announce the quantity of maize it has planned to buy from farmers this year will empower farmers to make more money for themselves.