Lungu saluted for liberalising maize floor price

Tue, 20 Dec 2016 13:12:27 +0000

By Bennie Mundando

TRADITIONAL leaders have hailed President Edgar Lungu’s decision to liberalise the maize floor price, saying the move will make the Food Reserve Agency more competitive, thereby saving farmers from exploitation by briefcase businessmen.

Chief Chikwanda of Mkushi and Chief Chikanta of Kalomo district expressed satisfaction at the move, saying competition in the maize buying sub-sector was good as it would enable farmers get value for their produce.

Chief Chikwanda noted that being a liberalised economy, there was need for players in the sector to determine the prices of goods and services, saying the move was long overdue as the FRA was always paying farmers less than what private buyers offered.

He said the farmers were always vulnerable to exploitation by briefcase buyers as they offered more for farmers’ produce than prices determined by Government, adding that with stiff competition FRA might offer better prices.

“This move by the President is commendable and we are in total support of the decision because it means that our farmers will not be exploited anymore as FRA will be able to come up with competitive prices to foil the threat from private buyers who at times have exploited our people because they knew Government was not providing any competition to them.

“I am in full support of this move because it will provide value for our farmers’ produce and help them to grow. We are in a free market economy and the dictates of a free market economy are that the forces of demand and supply should determine the price of the commodity rather than the way the situation has been where Government decided the price of maize,” Chief Chikwanda said.

And Chief Chikanta implored Government to ensure that FRA was adequately funded so that it stopped purchasing maize on credit and paid farmers promptly like what private buyers were doing.

He said the current mode of maize purchase where farmers had to wait until their payments were ready, long after they supplied maize to the agency, was what forced farmers to sell to private buyers who exploited them in most cases.

He said he was happy that President Lungu had considered the plight of farmers by liberalising the maize market floor price but said there was need to put measures in place to make the buying of maize by the agency smooth.

“This is welcome and we only hope Government will make money for such purchases readily available so that farmers are paid promptly as the case is with private buyers; unlike the current situation where farmers have to wait for their dues long after supplying the maize to FRA.

‘‘The competitiveness of the maize buying exercise will trickle the benefits down to the farmers who are the major players in this business,” Chief Chikanta said.


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