ESTHER MSETEKA, Lusaka
THE Zambia National Farmersâ€™ Union (ZNFU) says the stance by Government to prioritise smart production subsidies and restrain the Food Reserve Agency (FRA) from participating in maize marketing will stimulate private sector participation in the sector.
ZNFU president Jervis Zimba said restricting FRA to buying 500,000 metric tonnes for strategic reserves will encourage private sector participation, improve grain market transparency and price competitiveness.
In a statement availed to the Daily Mail last week, Mr Zimba said for Zambia to achieve its green revolution, Government needs to reposition the agriculture sector and focus more on improving agricultural productivity and profitability.
â€œFor years now, mealie-meal for consumers that was subsidised through discounted FRA maize supplies to millers has failed to significantly reduce the prices of the commodity other than depriving budgetary allocations for key agricultural development areas such as extension service delivery and research that have a positive impact on food security, farm incomes and agricultural jobs for most of our youths roaming the streets.
â€œWe cannot agree more with our Minister Dora Siliya that the Ministry of Agriculture should focus on developing agriculture as a paying business for all players in various value chains, with less political interference,â€ he said.
Mr Zimba said Governmentâ€™s position on prioritised smart production subsidy should be supported by all industry stakeholders to help lower the currently high cost of production and improve agricultural productivity.
â€œThis will in turn sustainably reduce and stabilise mealie-meal and other food prices,â€ he said.
Mr Zimba said the high cost of production, doing business and poor productivity have contributed to the increase in mealie-meal and other food prices in the country.
He said the solution to reducing and stabilising the prices lies more on improving agricultural productivity.
â€œFor instance, if Zambia more than doubled its current small-scale maize yields then mealie-meal prices will automatically and drastically fall. Our appeal to our minister is that this position on FRA must consistently be upheld as it is in conformity with the FRA Act,â€ Mr Zimba said.
ESTHER MSETEKA, Lusaka