FRA Zambia’s biggest maize buyer

BUYING of maize by the Food Reserve Agency (FRA) from local farmers over the years has yielded positive results in managing weak access to the maize markets, according to the Indaba Agricultural Policy Research Institute (IAPRI) rural agricultural livelihoods 2015 report.

According to the report, Government’s crop marketing policy through FRA has been conceived fundamentally as a positive response to a weak access to markets by farmers when selling their maize.

It reports that one of the most widely held perceptions in Zambia’s maize market is the concern of smallholder farmers’ poor access to markets.  Hence, the Government’s crop marketing policy through FRA has been conceived fundamentally as a response to this perceived market failure and weak access to markets.

According to the report, despite the poor condition of many feeder roads in Zambia, most smallholder farmers reported either sold their maize directly on their farms or travelled very short distances to sell their maize to private buyers.

About 50 percent of households selling to small-scale traders, retailers/marketers and other households sold their maize right in their villages whilst 25 percent of households selling to large-scale traders reported selling within the village.  Meanwhile, majority of the households obtained their fertilizer from the FISP either directly or via farmer organisations while only 0.8 percent of the farmers nationwide acquired the Government fertilizer through the food security pack.

It should be noted that within the 10 provinces of Zambia, North-Western Province recorded the highest percentage of farmers acquiring fertilizer from FISP, 75.7 percent.

It was then followed by Western Province with 71.4 percent while Eastern Province had the lowest percentage of farmers acquiring fertilizer through FISP with 48.2 percent.

Under commercial fertilizer purchases, two sources are mostly utilized by the smallholder farmers, which are cash purchases from private traders and loan purchases from out-grower schemes.

Nationally, cash purchases from private traders/retailers accounted for 43.6 percent of the farmers and loan purchases from out-grower schemes accounted for 15.4 percent of the farmers.

However, in Central and Copperbelt provinces, the percentage of households purchasing fertilizer from the private traders/retailers is almost 20 percent above the national average, 65.0 percent and 62.8 percent respectively.

As expected, North-Western and Western provinces have the lowest percentage of farmers acquiring fertilizer through cash purchases from private traders as most farmers reported acquiring their fertilizers from FISP.

At the national level, the second most commercial source was loan purchases from out-grower schemes and was more prominent in Eastern Province where 42.4 percent of the households acquired fertilizer through this channel.

Central province ranks second from Eastern Province in terms of the percentage of households acquiring fertilizer on loan from out-grower schemes with 21.6 percent of the households acquired fertilizer through this channel.

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