FRA should have targeted 1 million metric tonnes of maize – Hamukale


FRA should have targeted 1 million metric tonnes of maize – Hamukale

By Edwin Mbulo

THE K280 Food Reserve Agency’s price for a 50 kilogramme bag of maize is slightly above the cost of the commodity in the region, says Edify Hamukale.

He says price will help reduce smuggling of Zambia’s white maize.

However, Dr Hamukale said given that Zambia’s population has increased to almost 20 million people government should have targeted purchasing at least 1,000,000 metric tonnes of maize to meet strategic national food reserves.

On Wednesday, FRA board chairperson Kelvin Hambwezya announced that the agency will be buying maize at K280 per 50kg and paddy rice at K200 per 40kg bag.

“ FRA will enter the market and buy 500,000 metric tonnes of maize this season and will be buying a 50kg bag of maize at K280. This price is cost reflective, this price reflect the happenings in regional market,” he said.

The would buy 1,000 metric tonnes of paddy rice.

“This is not the flow price but FRA prices, hence millers are allowed to buy at their own prices. We are not buying soya beans this year because we are sitting on a huge stock of soya beans as FRA. We are sitting on 100,000mt of soya beans which we are grappling to find market for in the region. To that effect we are leaving the private sector to buy soya beans,” announced Hambwezya.

Commenting on the government move, Dr Hamukale, who is former Southern Province minister and an agricultural economist, said the rise from 2022’s K180 to K280 in 2023 was commendable.

“The price is above the break even price for small-scale farmers. The price is above export parity and slightly higher than the prices in neighbouring countries which will help reduce smuggling in a deficit year like 2023,” he said.

Dr Hamukale said farmers would now afford to purchase some fertiliser and seeds or inputs on their own even before the FISP intervention.

He said farmers now have a choice to sell maize to FRA and not other buyers in the short term due to the superior price variance.

“However, I am not happy with the purchase target of 500,000 metric tonnes even with a carry over of 248,000 metric tonnes of maize from 2022. This is because according to the 2022 national census of population, Zambia’s population has increased to almost 20 million people which justifies an increase of the purchase target to at least 1,000,000 metric tonnes to meet strategic national food reserves. We also have to factor in livestock feeds, opaque beer, and other industrial use requirements,” he said.

Dr Hamukale advised the government to control export of maize “as this can lead to acute shortage of maize domestically and lead to high mealie meal prices”.


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