Maize is now confirmed and would now sell at K75 per 50kg weight or K1.50 per kg of grain. It is actually important if this important crop which is our staple food has its floor price fixed during or before the planting season begins.
This would give enough time to our maize growing farmers to plan ahead.
For the rural farmer he needs to know what is on the floor for the next coming season. These are the people or farmers who need encouragement because they contribute 80% of the maize grain found on the market.
The big commercial farmers, these can easily adjust when things are not right or suit their production, they easily divert to other crops favorable and profitable to their business. Yes, farming is a business and should be treated so.
For our small rural farmer because he has no proper alternatives such as an ideal irrigation system to turn to in time of difficulties.
This rural farmer is dependent on Mother Nature to bring the required water in the form of rain.
Hence, this rural farmer is glued to this very activity of the only crop to give him money or cash in order for other activities to be done or executed. This is how important the fixing of the floor price for the following year crop is to this farmer.
Therefore, even if the commercial farmer opts to grow other crops, the 80% from this group of rural farmers would still contribute to the national grain storage.
The national staple food someone must continue producing it but this someone in this case this rural farmer must buy all means be encouraged through early or pre – season price announcement.
The price for the last harvested crop was announced late and during this time the brief case buyers had already bought most of the crop at a lower price than what has been announced lately.
The rural farmer has lost a lot, the K5 difference is a lot of money when talking tons of grain produced.
Of course when the price of maize in liberalized it will mean a lot of farmers would go into the production of maize at the expense of other crops still vital to our needs and nutrition of the nation at large.
Liberalization to most farmers especially the big commercial farmers would mean making arrangements with outside buyers or get tied to these for the sake of the dollar in the end the country would be in food deficit when it comes to our local staple food.
Hence, the only control on this maize grain is to have its price fixed so that the end products which in most cases is maize meal and other byproducts of bran for livestock feed.
The maize bran a byproduct from maize milling is not so readily available to the local small farmer so it has been noticed.
Big millers prefer to export this product mostly to Botswana. Even those who bring maize bran into Lusaka all the way from Eastern Province sell to business men connected to some milling companies and in the end exported.
Surely our own farmers need this bran for feed making for the various stocks but why tones of this product is being allowed to go out of the country.
It would be understood if the Government fixed a certain percentage of this byproduct for export unlike denying farmers this product for livestock feeding.
Maize production is sensitive and there is no way we can do without it. Therefore continuous production or growing of this crop is very much dependent on the floor price which the Government fixes. However, to encourage production it is import as already said to have the floor price announced well in advance.
This gives time to farmers to plan which would involve the land preparation (how big the land to be cultivated for this crop) purchasing of inputs according to the land set aside for the growing of this crop, labor and other related inputs, and of course should there be good rains it would mean bumper crop harvest for the nation.
Exporting the surplus would not be a problem but deficit areas of the nation should be supplied with adequate grain to avert hunger of the local citizens in such areas of the country.
The late announcement of the price of maize may be due to the high moisture content but this cannot stop farmers from planning for the next crop.
The late announcement of the floor price crop would mean that some millers would delay in buying of this crop and when farmers deliver the crop at these millings payment is never prompt hence further delay in purchasing the agricultural inputs.
If the agricultural inputs are not purchased in good time a rural farmer would only think of feeding his family, them the nation would have a shortage of this commodity.
This is how important floor price announcement in advance would help the the majority of the rural farmers. The earlier the sale their produce the earlier they get paid and then everything would fall in place.
Early rains should be taken advantage of. The crop by the time the rains are going would have had enough or more than satisfactory of the needed moisture during its growing period.
Early planting, early harvesting and early delivery after harvesting.
Small scale farmers as mentioned are the basis of the nation’s food basket. So every effort should be directed and helping to improve this sector of our farming community.
Prepack inputs that are given out every year can continue but not forgetting to announce the floor price of the commodity for the coming year.
By all means these small scale farmers should be encouraged and every support in the agricultural production be given.
The government is the father who provides all conduce needs for the mother (in this case the farmer) to put the food on the table for the children to eat (that is the nation).
The small scale farmer and indeed this rural farmer needs all the support the government can give for this category of our farming community. The country needs to eat and we cannot afford to go hungry when we have all the required resources.
Zambia is blessed and the strength lies in its people and these cannot be neglected as they make every citizen eat each and every day.
If we look at the commercial farmer indeed he is there to make money, knowing very well that farming is business and treat farming as such.
The small scale farmer looks at the stomach of the nation and of course they too need money to keep going with their daily business just like any other farmer in the country.
The emphasis of this is the preseason floor price it must be announced much earlier instead of after the farmer has harvested.
He also needs to know what profit he is likely to gain after toiling. The preseason floor price is important to every category of active farmers.
The government should not let market forces dictate the floor price this would disadvantage the the rural farmers because briefcase buyers would hopelessly bring the unthinkable price through their crafty bargaining all in the name of getting the most out nothing.
The FRA on the behalf of government should by all means pay the rural farmer first as the commercial farmer has means of sustaining himself.