The Zambia National Farmers’ Union is elated by the announced “FRA Price” for maize at ZMK280 per 50kg bag as this signals the beginning of progression towards cost reflective pricing for maize in this country. This will incentivize farmers to return to producing maize for national food security and exports. Price is a key factor when farmers are determining which commodity to venture in producing. 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.

To Government, we say well done on this one. With right signals, the future looks positive for maize so long as cost reflective prices are sustained.

On the downside the Union is disappointed that soyabeans will not be part of the FRA strategic reserves this marketing season when farmers in far flung areas have embraced crop diversification and the season promises a record crop of soyabeans. Here, we propose that government allows regulated exports of soyabeans immediately. The ZNFU would like to see a situation where all the soyabeans value chain players are sustained in business and not short-changing the farmer. What good will it be to abandon soyabeans farmers at crop marketing, having oriented them to growing soyabeans as an alternative crop which is also good for the soils in crop rotation? This development should be re-visited. The idea of assuming that there is enough crushing capacity for all the eans should be interrogated with historical facts of dynamics of this value chain because in practice this is not tenable. We invite Government to a constructive consultative meeting on the soyabeans value chain so that together we can agree on pragmatic solutions.

It is a fact South Africa has a huge soyabeans crop implying that the demand in the region for value added products will be subdued. This suggests we should also look at exports of the beans itself if the prices are to be salvaged. The fact that our soyabeans is non-GMO will give Zambia an edge in niche markets which traditionally pay premiums on non-GMO commodities.

Another key factor to bear in mind is that the crop marketing window is relatively short and as such, we urge government to make timely decisions on exports and send rights policy signals to players in the market.

Finally, we want to reiterate that the Union remains confident that the signal set on maize pricing by FRA, will be sustained and reverse the production curve that has been on steady decrease in the last three years. We are encouraged and believe that it is feasible to realize the dream of being a breadbasket of the region.

Source: Zambia National Farmers’ Union