FRA should buy maize at reasonable price

Dear Editor,
THE harvesting of maize for the 2019/2020 farming season is in the process. The government through the Food Reserve Agency (FRA) will soon announce the floor price of the commodity as it has been the trend every farming season.
FRA is mandated to buy various crops from farmers every year. These include maize, wheat, rice and soya beans, among others.
As we are in the free market economy where the price of goods and services is determined by the forces of demand and supply, there is need for FRA to buy the commodity at a reasonable price.
The government is projected to buy one million metric tonnes of maize this year. This is a good gesture to the farmers.
Given this scenario, I implore FRA to at least buy the commodity from the farmers at K150 per 50kg bag. This price is ideal. The price will not only motivate the farmers but it will help them recoup the costs incurred in accessing the farming inputs.
Farming is business and as such, the farmers should realise a profit in the agriculture sector. When this is done, it will attract more players in the sector.
Agriculture is slowly but surely becoming the mainstay of Zambia’s economy. In light of this, it is imperative to provide some incentives to the farmers.
It is true to mention here that FRA cannot buy all the maize stocks from the farmers but, the agency should buy more quantities than the individual buyers.
It is worth noting that the farmers should be wary about the briefcase buyers to be swindled let alone be exploited through lower prices for the commodity.
In an event of FRA offering a low price for the commodity this year, the trend will ultimately demotivate the farmers. The farmers might resort to planting other crops from which to derive much revenue.
Moving forward; the issue of Government through FRA offering a low price for maize to the farmers where the latter cry foul year in, year out should be addressed. This can be done through holding of an “indaba” between the farmers, stakeholders and FRA prior to announcing this year’s floor price of maize.

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