GOVERNMENT’s decision to buy all the maize from farmers this year is a step in the right direction as it will protect growers from exploitation by briefcase buyers, says Chief Chikanta of Tonga speaking of Southern Province.
Chief Chikanta said the move would also compel businesses to continue buying the commodity at the same price as the Food Reserve Agency (FRA).
Commenting on President Edgar Lungu’s directive to the FRA to buy all the maize from the farmers and then export it to other countries to boost foreign exchange reserves since the region had a maize shortage, Chief Chikanta said the Head of State had come to the rescue of farmers from exploitation.
The traditional leader observed that if Government had maintained its decision to buy only 500,000 metric tonnes of maize as earlier announced, private buyers would have taken advantage of the situation to exploit farmers.
He noted that the move will force all buyers to maintain FRA’s buying price of K 75 per 50 kilogramme bag of maize or more in order to lure farmers to supply more maize thereby increasing their income.
“Government’s directive is welcome and this is what farmers were looking for because there were fears that if Government would restrict itself to purchase 500,000 metric tonnes, then the price of maize would fluctuate to the disadvantage of the farmers after Government stopped buying the commodity,” chief Chikanta said.
He explained that with FRA participation in the market farmers will get value for their products which will help them to adequately prepare for the next farming season.
“You see, the price of fertiliser and seed is increasing every year and farmers need enough money to enable them buy these things. Farmers rely on their produce for the next season farming and so, it they do not sell their commodities at the right price, it will have an effect on their preparation for next season,
“But now that government has pledged to buy all the maize, it means our farmers will be not be exploited by any individual buyer because the price will remain the same,” he said.
Last week, President Lungu said Government will buy all the maize from farmers and export it because most countries in the region had serious production deficits of the crop due to bad weather.