NOEL LYOMBA writes
THE 2018/19 Indaba Agricultural Research Institute (IAPRI) grain market assessment report has revealed that private sector participation in maize marketing significantly increased in the 2018/19 season as compared to the previous crop marketing season.
The report noted that for the medium and larger scale traders, Lusaka and the Copperbelt provinces still remained the leading consuming markets with large milling companies being the main buyers.
The report states that the large and small-scale traders, who went into the crop market earlier than the Food Reserve Agency (FRA), were mostly those that are engaged in other businesses such as retailing and transportation.
“The maize market structure still remained the same during the period under review, with the small-scale farmers still being the main maize suppliers, feeding both the formal and informal value addition sectors,” says the report
“For example, more traders and millers set up buying points in the primary production zones,” states the report.
According to the report, the increased market participation was due to the relative scarcity of maize though the opposite applied to the northern part of the country where private sector participation was scaled back due to low demand from East African countries.
However, there was a demand-pull mostly from the Copperbelt, Central and Lusaka Provinces.
For the most part, farmers were selling most of their maize grain more to traders than to FRA except for those in the northern region where traders’ participation in the market is still limited.
Maize supply was relatively low as compared to the previous agricultural season, with some market participants indicating that they began buying the maize as early as May 2018.
However, unlike the previous farming season, the report says, the traders were going to the farmer’s doorstep to buy the commodity more than usual, eliminating the need for the farmers to transport their commodities to central markets in district towns or urban centers.