ESTHER MSETEKA, Lusaka
THE Zambia National Farmers’ Union (ZNFU) says the K60 Food Reserve Agency (FRA) proposed market price for maize will negatively affect farmers’ income.
The union says farmers will not benefit anything at K60 and will fail to recover production costs.
In a statement availed to the Daily Mail yesterday, ZNFU media and public relations manager Calvin Kaleyi said the price by the agency will discourage farmers from planting maize and soya beans in the next farming season.
“It is obvious that this price will not benefit the farmer in any way. With a breakeven price for a 50kilogramme (kg) bag of maize estimated at K75, the K60 FRA market price makes a farmer lose K15 per 50kg bag. Farmers have been on the bad receiving end of the value chain all the time as opposed to consumers.
“In reality, FRA is offering farmers K1.20 per kg, way below full cost recovery price. This, really, is a morale dampener for farmers, coming from a season where they experienced armyworms, red locusts and flash floods, but endured the odds,” Mr Kaleyi said.
He said the announcement by FRA has demoralised farmers as they worked hard to ensure a maize bumper harvest of 3.6 million metric tonnes is attained.
“If not carefully handled, the move by FRA will jeopardise the country’s food security in the coming season.
“We have had the worst market prices for soya beans, which crushed from K5 to K1.50 per kg. The K60 for a 50kg bag of maize has just driven in the last nail to bury the farmer,” he said.
Mr Kaleyi appealed to Government to consider engaging farmers every time they plan to make an important decision that impacts their businesses and lives.
In a separate interview, Economic Association of Zambia president Chrispin Mphuka said there is need for Zambia to put in place mechanisms that will help to modulate the fluctuation of prices in the sector.
Dr Mphuka urged Government to create a price stabilisation fund to cushion farmers whenever there is a bumper harvest.