More money in farmers’ pockets

PRESIDENT Edgar Lungu has announced an upward adjustment of the floor price for maize which would now see farmers sell their grain to the Food Reserve Agency (FRA) at K75 instead of K70 as announced by the agency last week.
President Lungu said the upward adjustment of the maize floor price was meant to encourage farmers to grow more maize so that the country did not suffer from the grain deficit which has affected a number of countries in the region.
Speaking to journalists at Kenneth Kaunda International Airport (KKIA) soon after his arrival from Botswana where he had gone for the 35th summit of the SADC Heads of State and Government, President Lungu said the maize purchasing season by the FRA was such a topical subject which should be handled carefully.
The President said only Zambia and Tanzania had recorded excess grain in the region and that farmers should continue being encouraged by giving them attractive prices so that they could grow more maize.
The President has since directed the treasury to source for more money for FRA to purchase its targeted 500 000 tones from farmers stating that food security was of great concern in the region.
He said the agency would have to find market in the region because a number of countries had recorded a serious deficit in maize grain.
He said countries such as Angola, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Namibia had recorded maize deficits and that it would be economically prudent for FRA to find such a market.
“We are going to increase the floor price of maize to K75 from the previously announced price of K70 and I will ask the treasury to find more resources so that FRA can buy the maize. We will remain at 500 000 and this is meant to encourage our farmers to work harder and grow more maize. As you known it turns out that only Zambia and Tanzania have excess grain and we have to handle this subject carefully. FRA should go out the market as you we have a food deficit in the region. Food security in the region is a concern,” President Lungu said.
The announcement of maize price floor by Food Reserve Agency (FRA) of K70 for a 50 Kilograms bag of maize had been received with mixed feelings.
Some farmers in Sinazongwe district of Southern Province said the maize price floor by FRA could have been increased to K80 and not the announced K70.
Sinazongwe farmers’ group representative George Bbabbi said FRA could have cited a number of factors that would have been considered before announcing the price.
“We are not going to sell our maize to FRA because K70 will make us lose, in that transportation is expensive, and the state of road in Sinazongwe is bad,” Mr Bbabbi said.
But farmers in Mumbwa district welcomed the maize price floor, saying the announced price of K70 per 50kg bag of maize was much better than the price that the private buyers had been offering farmers especially in far-flung areas.
Richard Milambo said farmers were selling their maize between K55-K60 per 50kg bag to private sectors due to the delays by the Government to announce the price floor.
Mr Milambo said private buyers were taking the advantage of the situation and exploited some farmers to sell their maize to as low as K55 per 50kg bag of maize.
And President has said his dressing was not flamboyant as was sarcastically and maliciously reported in the Post Newspaper yesterday stating that he had been dressing like that from his days as a practicing lawyer.

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