Farm­ers protest FRA wit…h prices re­duced sales

Daily Nation Newspaper - - FRONT PAGE - By NA­TION RE­PORTER

‘‘This was ex­pected be­cause even the FRA it­self ad­mit­ted at the time they were an­nounc­ing their buy­ing price of K65 that they were go­ing to have a very com­pet­i­tive mar­ket­ing sea­son.’’

THE fail­ure by Food Re­serve Agency (FRA) to buy its tar­geted 500, 000 met­ric tonnes of maize dur­ing this maize mar­ket­ing sea­son is a protest by farm­ers over its poor prices, says the Zam­bia Na­tional Farm­ers’ Union (ZNFU). Com­ment­ing on the fail­ure by FRA to meet its tar­get and only man­ag­ing to mop up a pal­try 172, 000 met­ric tonnes of the grain, ZNFU pub­lic re­la­tions man­ager Kelvin Ka­leyi yes­ter­day told the Daily Na­tion that the cur­rent sit­u­a­tion was ex­pected and was purely a re­sult of stubor­ness by the agency when peg­ging prices. Mr. Ka­leyi said ZNFU was not sur­prised with the turn of events be­cause even the FRA it­self had ad­mit­ted that it would be dif­fi­cult to meet its tar­get be­cause of its low prices. “This was ex­pected be­cause even the FRA it­self ad­mit­ted at the time they were an­nounc­ing their buy­ing price of K65 that they were go­ing to have a very com­pet­i­tive mar­ket­ing sea­son. To us, it doesn’t come as a sur­prise be­cause farm­ers got as much as K95 per 50 kilo­gram bag of maize from pri­vate buy­ers which was K25 above what FRA was of­fer­ing. “The mar­ket for the farm­ers this sea­son was pri­vate-sec­tor driven. FRA tried all it could but failed to con­vince farm­ers to sell. It only man­aged to get much of that maize in North­ern Prov­ince. On the Cop­per­belt, for in­stance, they only man­aged to buy about 1000 tonnes and that tells you how bad their price was,” Mr. Ka­leyi said. He said had it not been for the fact that Govern­ment had re­stricted ex­ports, Zam­bia was go­ing to be food in­se­cure due to such lack­lus­tre de­ci­sions by the agency as most grain traders would have ex­ported most of their grain. “Govern­ment re­alised that if it al­lowed maize ex­ports, we were not go­ing to have enough food as a coun­try and that is why it put that re­stric­tive mea­sure which in essence is a ban on maize ex­ports. This was done to en­sure that even if the coun­try does not have enough stock at FRA, we can still have enough as the com­mod­ity will be cir­cu­lat­ing within the coun­try. “Govern­ment knows that if the maize is with the traders and the millers and they are con­trol­ling busi­ness, it is easy to be food se­cure. The only com­fort­ing as­pect is that there was that 300,000 met­ric tonnes sur­plus from the other year which puts us in a good po­si­tion. Oth­er­wise, with­out this and if the coun­try ex­ported its stock, hunger would have been stalk­ing us by now,” he said. He warned that FRA risked be­ing ir­rel­e­vant if it con­tin­ued mak­ing de­ci­sions that dis­ad­van­taged the farm­ers. “Right now, FRA is op­er­at­ing with a red flag be­cause they know that if ex­ports are al­lowed, we can be in a pre­car­i­ous sit­u­a­tion as a coun­try. This calls for re-strate­gis­ing its mar­ket­ing sys­tem, oth­er­wise go­ing for­ward, this agency risks be­ing ir­rel­e­vant be­cause peo­ple would rather sell to the pri­vate sec­tor which is of­fer­ing bet­ter prices,” he said.

This was ex­pected be­cause even the FRA it­self ad­mit­ted at the time they were an­nounc­ing their buy­ing price of K65 that they were go­ing to have a very com­pet­i­tive mar­ket­ing sea­son.” — Mr Ka­leyi.

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