KELVIN CHONGO, Lusaka
MINISTER of Agriculture and Livestock Given Lubinda has told Parliament that Government does not want to rush into announcing the floor price for maize because farmers in some parts of the country are still negotiating for a good price.
Mr Lubinda was responding to Chadiza (MMD) member of Parliament Allan Mbewe, who wanted to know whether Government has any plans to start announcing the floor price of maize, cotton, groundnuts and sunflower.
In responding to the questions, Mr Lubinda said Government is taking its time in announcing maize floor prices to avoid pushing the private sector out of the market.
â€œFarmers should not wait for the Food Reserve Agency [FRA] to announce the price but fix their own prices following the deficit in the region,â€ he said.
The minister said FRA will only buy maize in areas which the private sector find difficult to reach.
Mr Lubinda called on Zambian farmers to take advantage of the regional maize deficit and fix prices based on market forces.
He said the FRA will only announce the floor price of maize when it is ready to enter the market and will also announce the areas from where it will buy the maize.
Mr Lubinda told Parliament that his ministry is encouraging farmers to use their co-operative movements to strengthen their bargaining power and get the best price for their commodities.
He said the laws of Zambia state that the role of Government through the FRA as regards to pricing is only in areas which have minimal private sector participation.
Meanwhile, Government has disbursed K156,800,000 to 112 constituencies in the 2014 Constituency Development Fund (CDF) allocation, Parliament heard yesterday.
Presenting a ministerial statement, Local Government and Housing Minister John Phiri said K53,200,000 has not yet been disbursed to 38 constituencies in the 2014 allocation.
â€œMinistry of Finance withheld the disbursement of 2014 CDF until the 2013 allocation has been utilised. I am aware that most constituencies have utilised the 2014 allocation and thus are eligible to receive the 2015 CDF allocation,â€ he said.
And Dr Phiri also told Parliament that Government is currently revising CDF guidelines to bring them in tandem with the existing policies.
Dr Phiri said the revision is meant to strengthen the decentralisation process and ensure that the national development agenda incorporates sub-level development priorities.
The minister said the review will also enhance accountability in the use of CDF.
â€œCDF has generally performed well and has been appreciated by local communities as it is the only fund that is sourced easily by our people and therefore appreciated as it helps them acquire infrastructure which would be difficult to acquire,â€ he said.
Dr Phiri, however, said demands have been made for CDF to have effective guidelines and tighter controls.
KELVIN CHONGO, Lusaka