By Nation Reporter
The Food Reserve Agency (FRA) will purchase 1, 000, 000 metric tonnes of maize for the 2015/2016 agricultural season.
And Parliament heard yesterday that the Ministry of Finance and other stakeholders have resolved that the export of maize from the 2015/2016 agricultural season be suspended up to the end of September 2016.
Agriculture Minister Given Lubinda announced in a ministerial statement that FRA purchase price for the 2015/2016 agricultural season had been set at K75 per 50Kg bag of maize.
Mr Lubinda said FRA would enter the 2016/2017 marketing season early and as soon as the maize reached acceptable moisture content.
Speaking when he presented the maize marketing modalities for the 2016/2017 marketing season, Mr Lubinda stated that maize production for the 2015/2016 agriculture season was forecast to increase to 2, 873, 052 metric tonnes from 2, 618, 221 metric tonnes in the 2014/2015 season, an increase of 9.73 percent.
Mr Lubinda said the country had produced sufficient maize for both human consumption and industrial use and had recorded a maize surplus of 634, 681 metric tonnes of maize.
“Despite this positive outlook for Zambia, maize prices in the Southern African Region had escalated in recent weeks. This is due to the increased demand in neighbouring countries. Some neighbouring countries are currently buying maize at US$380 per metric tonne,”
“This translates to K215 per 50kg bag. A 25 Kg bag of breakfast meal in other neighbouring countries is costing approximately $40. This price disparity has led to increased demand for Zambian maize in the region,” he said.
Mr Lubinda said there was likely to be a huge demand for the commodity both from the local and regional markets, and prices were likely to escalate.
“FRA will, therefore, commence maize purchase as soon as the maize reaches acceptable moisture content,” he said.
Mr Lubinda said extensive consultations were made when coming up with the purchase price of K75 per 50 Kg bag of maize and that various factors were taken into account.
“It is necessary to hold the purchase price of K75 per 50kg as this is still attractive. Currently, some private buyers are purchasing maize from small scale farmers at prices ranging from K50 to K70 per 50kg bag,” Mr Lubinda said.
He said the FRA had already commenced preliminary preparations for the marketing season.
Mr Lubinda said the agency has further started distribution of marketing materials to the provinces and recruitment of staff to man the satellite depots in the district was also underway.