CHOMBA MUSIKA, Lusaka
THE Food Reserve Agency (FRA) has maintained that it will buy maize from farmers at K60 for a 50kg bag because the price is determined
by market forces.
The insistence comes after the Zambia National Farmers Union (ZNFU) requested the agency to consider adjusting the price upwards for the benefit of farmers.
ZNFU argued that the K60 set by FRA was below the cost of producing maize.
The two parties met on August 4, 2017 to discuss the matter but could not agree on a higher price.
ZNFU president Jervis Zimba said in a statement yesterday that the FRA board has maintained that the agency will buy a 50kg bag of maize at K60 because it is the market price.
“The union has received a letter from the FRA stating that the price of K60 per 50kg bag of maize will be maintained,” Mr Zimba said.
He said ZNFU is shocked by FRA’s refusal to adjust the price upwards.
Mr Zimba said the union has since sought audience with the Ministry of Agriculture over the matter.
“The union has written to the Minister of Agriculture to sanitise this unfortunate state of affairs. We have escalated the matter to the Ministry of Agriculture because of the inconsistencies at play.
“Last season, market conditions were interfered with because after the maize was bought from farmers, exports were stopped through an export ban and introduction of a 10 percent export tax.
“Resulting from this, traders who would have exported maize and would have been liquid to buy maize this season are out of the equation as they have no money to participate,” Mr Zimba said.
He said the consequences of the price at which FRA will buy maize are severe.
“The FRA price will increase poverty in farming areas because perennial middlemen have already positioned themselves buying at very low prices for supplying to real market players such as FRA, millers and other processers,” Mr Zimba said.