ABOUT SOYA BEANS vs NSHIMA-NOMICS
By Miles B. Sampa,MP (24.05.2023)
Seen a number of colleagues in the opposition giving orders and ultimatums to the government to purchase all the Soya beans harvested by farmers in the Country.
I thought to myself that here we go again ‘ wanting to do things exactly the same as in the past years and yet expect our Country to grow economically’. Celebrated social philosopher Albert Einstein once put it bluntly “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.”
In the past each time farmers fail to sell their cash crops, then lobbyist be it opposition arm-twist incumbent governments to become buyers of last resort whether said crop purchase was in the approved national budget or not. So where is the government expected to find the funds to buy the surplus soya beans if I may ask?
Print the money or borrow from the domestic market and in which case some will still cry foul that ‘government is crowding out the private sector buying bonds and tbills’. Even when they can easily do that, should that money not be channeled towards buying more medicines for our hospitals and clinics ?
Weaker populistic based governments easily give in and ‘manufacture’ un budgeted money to purchase the soya beans for political expediency. This is a crop that is predominantly grown by the large commercial farmers. So when they decided to plant it, who was their target market and what has happened to that market? Did they not insure their crop against unforeseen market instabilities ?
The only crop which I personally vouch for even in Parliament for government to always intervene as buyer of last resort is Maize. This is because Maize not only leads to ‘ulutoshi’ (staple food nshima ) but is grown by our majority peasant farmers in all the 10 provinces of Zambia that are vulnerable and have no access or capacity to insure their little acreage of crops.
Nshima or lutoshinomics can lead to mass starvation or loss of lives if not handled well. Government therefore has to be alert to support small scale maize farmers if so needed from the planting to the marketing stages of the crop.
Thats for Maize but the market options currently available for the soya beans commercial growers is to stole their harvest in warehouses until their anticipated floor price surfaces. All simply cut their losses if stressed for liquidity. It’s part of agricultural economics planning and strategies.
Unfortunately what Zambia does not have is a grain or commodity exchange market where there constant primary and secondary sellers and buyers transact daily be it for speculative purposes. In developed countries soya beans is traded same way we trade FOREX. Some buy when the price is low and keep for months to re-sale at a margin profit when prices rise.
We have LUSE for shares but we must have another one for agricultural and metal commodities. If there is one then indeed it’s non functional and that’s why soya beans farmers running to the Minister of agriculture Mutolo Phiri to buy what he neither needs or had money or budget line to pay from.
I urge to the Finance Minister Dr Situmbeko Musokotwane to abide by the 2023 approved national budget and any expense that we did not approve in Parliament for him to spend, should mot be tolerated. Zambia needs financially disciplined if ever has leap frog it’s national development agenda.
We cannot keep digging financial holes to bury other holes. That was the norm time immemorial and this current government of all its many short comings, they have to stay prudent with public finances by sticking to the approved national budget. Soya beans purchase from commercial farmers was not budgeted for.
May we as a nation please Sir Albert Einstein in his grave by not doing same economic errors of the past but expect different economic results (higher GDP).
May the nation act sane in that aspect.