THE current restricted importation of agricultural products to protect local farmers and issuance of import permits to ensure price stability in the market will continue in the next five years, says the Patriotic Front (PF) 2016-2019 manifesto.
The PF has pledged to take necessary measures in the agriculture industry such as promoting easy and regular access to agricultural market information for farmers aimed at avoiding market distortion.
While promoting the export of value added agricultural commodities rather than primary commodities, the PF would maintain restricted importation of the commodities readily available from local farmers and only use the issuance of import permits to ensure price stability.
In addition, the manifesto stated that the PF would promote equitable out-grower schemes which ascertain price stability and commodity availability to the farmer and out-grower institution.
“To avoid market distortions, the PF government shall maintain an open border policy for the export of agricultural commodities and only use the issuance of export permits to ensure national food security.
“Promote equitable out-grower schemes that will ascertain price stability and commodity availability to the farmer and out grower institution,” read the document in part.
In dealing with the challenge faced especially with maize marketing, the PF would promote warehouse receipt systems through the Zambia Agriculture Marketing and Commodity Exchange (ZAMACE) for agricultural commodities.
This would allow farmers to use their stock as collateral to borrow while waiting for price increases, thereby circumventing the need to sell their produce at lower prices early in the harvest season.
The PF would also promote the construction and management of commodity warehouses by the private sector as close to the production centres as possible.
“The PF will review the FRA Act so as to make the FRA buyer of last resort and strictly for national strategic reserves and to curtail the offloading of FRA maize on the local market, except during extenuating circumstances such as the need to ensure availability of the commodity and price stabilisation,” reads the document in part.