Thursday, April 25, 2024
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FRA COMMODITY PRICES CHEER ZNFU

By GLORIA SIWISHA

MAIZE is Zambia’s staple food that provides about 60 percent of the country’s caloric requirements. Much of this production comes mainly from smallholder producers and almost entirely rain-fed.

Agriculture also provides the main support for the country’s rural economy. 

Experts assert that over 80 percent of the rural population depend on agriculture-related activities for their livelihoods and employment.

It’s on account of this that commodity floor prices are usually set by authorities as an effort to protect smallholder farmers from exploitation, as well as help them get value for their produce.

Last Wednesday, the Food Reserve Agency (FRA) announced the prices for white maize and paddy rice for the 2023 crop marketing season. 

According to the agency, the price of white maize has been set K200 per 50kg bag, while paddy rice will be sold at K280 per 50kg. 

FRA Board chairperson Kelvin Hambwezya made the announcement during a press briefing in Lusaka. 

Although FRA insists the announced prices are not floor prices and that stakeholders were free to buy at their own prices, the development has still elated the Zambia National Farmers’ Union (ZNFU).

ZNFU president Jervis Zimba says in statement that the K280 price for a 50 kg bag of maize signals the beginning of progression towards cost reflective pricing for maize in the country.

He said the move would motivate farmers to return to producing maize for national food security and exports.

Mr. Zimba said price was a key factor when farmers determined which commodity to venture into or produce.

“Over the years we have seen more and more farmers abandoning maize production for the simple reason that the price incentive was just non-existent as it became impossible to recover the investment put in maize,” he said.

He has however expressed concern that soya beans will not be part of the Food Reserve Agency’s strategic reserves this marketing season. – NAIS

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