Government must not directly deal in the export of maize by signing contracts with the other countries because such moves have never benefited the country, says the Zambia National Farmers Union.
Commenting on the government’s decision to sign the Statutory Instrument to allow the export of maize, ZNFU executive director Ndambo Ndambo said the move was welcome but should be left to the private sector.
He said Zambia had been a maize surplus producer for the last four years hence the need to export and earn foreign exchange.
“For the last four years, Zambia has been a maize surplus producer so let’s export and let’s allow the private sector, not the government to come into contracts. Government contracts have never performed because government is not in the business of doing business.
“Government must be in the business of facilitating a policy environment that is so supportive to allow the private sector do business and then government reaps from the forex and taxes,” Mr Ndambo said.
He said there was need to open the market because Zamabia had maize sitting with the grain traders while the region around lacked the commodity.
“I think the time to be worried about food insecurity is over now because we are going into the harvest and we expect quite substantial maize coming from our small scale farmers. So the maize that we are sitting on now let it be exported to the needy countries in the region so that we can earn forex,” Mr Ndambo said.
He said there was need for Zamabia to reduce reliance on copper exports by promoting agriculture.
“We have been relying on our forex on copper, so let’s use nontraditional exports such as maize and take advantage before our colleagues in the region harvest; we should be able to sell what we have,” Mr Ndambo said.
And Mr Ndambo said there was need to avoid political interference in the staple food.
“Let’s not deal with one output, let’s deal with the entire value chain. And linking mealie meal prices to political instability is wrong. Farmers should not be there to subsidize the political status,” Mr Ndambo said.
Mr Ndambo however accused millers of not offering corporate social responsibility to the consumers.
“Even if the maize price is K65, the millers will still sell the mealie meal to the consumers at a higher price. Never have millers demonstrated their corporate responsibility and seriousness that if the raw material is cheaper, then they have to reduce the price of mealie meal, they are always up to making more profits,” Mr Ndambo said.
He warned government not to fall into the miller’s trap by maintaining the floor price of maize at K65 per 50kg bag.
“So if government wants to listen to millers, then they will never achieve anything. Government must listen to the farmers because that’s where the value chain starts from.Millers have never been honest in terms of dealing with the mealie meal prices.” Said Ndambo