Editor's Comment

Millers deserve praise, support

MAIZE

THAT the Millers Association of Zambia has pegged its purchasing price of maize from farmers at K95 for a 50kg bag is commendable and the way to go if farmers are to be encouraged to produce more.
At the beginning of the 2017/2018 marketing season, the Food Reserve Agency (FRA) pegged its price for purchase of maize at K65 per 50kg bag and later on increased the offer to K70.
The price offered by the FRA is just indicative and should not be seen as the ceiling price at which maize can be bought from farmers. Actually FRA is just one of the players on the maize market.
However, in the past, we have seen a trend where some players, including millers, have pegged their price for purchase of maize lower than that of FRA.
This has unfortunately disadvantaged farmers who have ended up being duped out of their hard-earned produce.
Given that FRA is mandated to buy only 500,000 metric tonnes of maize, many farmers have had no choice but to sell their grain to exploitative private business people.
This is why the decision by the Millers Association of Zambia is commendable. The offer of K95 per 50kg bag is much more appealing.
At first MAZ was offering farmers between K85 and K90 but after realising farmers are still holding back their maize, the association decided to increase the offer price to K95.
This is what is expected in a free market economy. Maize buyers are not supposed to restrict themselves to the price set by FRA.
Farmers too should not think that the buyers are doing them a favour. They (farmers) have every right to peg their own prices because they are the ones who know the costs of production.
It is good that while the marketing season seemed to have started on a low note, certainly things are brightening up.
As MAZ has so far only bought 20 percent of the targeted quantities of maize, the farmers are in better stead to get better prices.
Given the challenges that farmers in far-flung rural areas face to transport their produce to the market, MAZ, as is the case for FRA, will do well to follow them to their resp