Zambian farmers threaten to stop growing maize over poor price

LUSAKA, Aug. 24 — Farmers in Zambia on Wednesday said they will
have no option but to classify maize as a risky business if the government
does not reverse the floor price for the purchase of the commodity
announced recently.

The Food Reserve Agency (FRA), a government agency that purchases and
stores maize, recently announced 60 Zambian Kwacha (about 6.7 U.S. dollars)
as the floor price for a 50 kilogram bag of maize in the current marketing
season from 80 Kwacha announced in the previous marketing season. But the
announcement has received a backlash from stakeholders who feel it was a
slap on farmers. Jervis Zimba, president of the Zambia National Farmers
Union (ZNFU), said farmers should not be taken for granted after responding
positively to government’s call to run an agro-based economy through the
production of 2.8 million tons of maize in the 2016/2017 farming season.
“History is about to repeat itself. Current developments are reminiscent
of the 1990s when farmers stopped growing maize,” he said in a statement.
He said it was unfortunate that the FRA has insisted on buying maize at a
price which has been rejected by the farmers, saying the farmers were being
swindled by the government agency. According to him, it was unfortunate
that the food reserve agency was pegging the price of maize at below the
cost of production when it was supposed to balance the prices of both
mealie meal and maize production. The farmers’ body has since urged farmers
to hoard on to their maize and not sell to the food reserve agency until an
amicable solution was arrived at with the government. – XINHUA