KALABA WARNS ZAMBIANS TO BRACE FOR HIGHER MEALIE MEAL PRICES
…as he condemns FRA for abandoning small-scale soya beans farmers
Lusaka, Wednesday, May 17, 2023
Citizens First (CF) president Harry Kalaba has described as irresponsible and cruel to small-scale farmers the announcement by the government that it will not buy any soya beans this year.
Mr Kalaba also says the new price of a 50 kilogram bag of maize announced today by the Food Reserve Agency (FRA) will lead to further increases in the prices of mealie meal because of the absence of subsidies.
“The increase in the price of maize without a safety net will cause more suffering to citizens because the price of mealie meal will be out of the reach of an average family. Government is being irresponsible,” he said.
He said this in a statement issued in Lusaka, Wednesday.
The FRA announced today that it will be buying a 50kg bag of maize at K280 from K180 but said it will not buy soya beans because it has enough stock from last year.
It also said it will buy only 500,000 tonnes for strategic reserves.
Mr Kalaba made the following observations:
1. The price of mealie meal is expected to rise further following the announcement by FRA that it will be buying a 50kg bag of maize at K280. The last price was K180.
This means farmers will also demand that the private traders buy the grain at K280.
Without any government subsidy, millers will be forced to sell the mealie meal at commercial prices to recoup the cost of maize and make a profit. The price of mealie meal may shoot to between K300 and K350 for a 25kg bag. So, citizens should brace for higher prices of mealie meal.
2. The FRA has thrown small-scale farmers under the bus by announcing that it will not be buying any soya beans this year.
“This is irresponsible and will bring misery among small-scale soya beans farmers who will be stuck with the commodity or be forced to sell it to the cruel private buyers at give-away prices,” Mr Kalaba said.
He noted that because of the chaos in the distribution of fertiliser in the last farming season, many farmers did not grow maize to avoid losing their crop but opted for soya beans, which the FRA used to buy at K650 last year while private buyers insisted on buying it at as low as K400.
“For example, in Mumbwa very few farmers grew maize because of lack or late delivery of fertiliser. Majority of them grew soya beans. FRA has now left these poor farmers at the mercy of private buyers who are already offering K280 for a 50kg bag. It’s an insult for the private buyers to offer such a ridiculously low price,” Mr Kalaba said.
He is worried that the continued mismanagement of the agriculture sector by the New Dawn government was posing a threat to the country’s food security.