Friday, July 27, 2018

(THE MAST ONLINE) Govt has continued to offer farmers slavery maize price, says Mtayachalo

COMMENT - Why does underpaying African farmers for their products sound so familiar? "Last week FRA pegged the maize floor price at K65".

(THE MAST ONLINE) Govt has continued to offer farmers slavery maize price, says Mtayachalo
By Christopher Miti
on July 27, 2018

YOTAM Mtayachalo says the 2018 maize floor price set by the Food Reserve Agency will dampen the morale of the farming community in the country. And Mtayachalo has suggested that government, through FRA, should help small scale farmers sell maize to the international market.

Last week FRA pegged the maize floor price at K65 but this was met with mixed feelings prompting President Edgar Lungu to order a review of the price, describing the current one as not a very fair price. But Mtayachalo, who is FDD national chairperson for labour, stated that the 2018 maize floor price was a mockery.

“The floor price of maize announced by the government through FRA is a mockery to our hard working farmers as the K65 per 50kg bag of maize price offered to farmers for the 2018 marketing season is not commensurate with the prevailing high cost of production in light of high cost of fertilisers, seeds and other auxiliary farming inputs. Further, the general cost of doing business in the country has been escalating at a very alarming rate and as such the agriculture sector has not equally been spared. Therefore, the price of maize will dampen the morale among the farming community and may further discourage them from growing the staple food because government has continued to offer them a slavery floor price which is mostly driven by political motives,” he stated.

Mtayachalo accused successive governments of having manipulated the maize floor price for political reasons.

“You don’t need to be a rocket scientist to tell that all successive governments have manipulated the price of maize for political reasons by deliberately offering maize farmers poor prices for their commodity for the sole purpose of providing cheaper mealie-meal on the market, notably for the urban communities at the expense of poor farmers, hence small scale farmers have failed to graduate into higher income brackets since independence because of lack of adequate working capital and mechanisation, job creation and poverty eradication remains a pipe dream,” he stated.
 “It must also be realised that farmers have not equally been spared from the high cost of living in the country, and as such the government which claims to be pro-poor should have taken into account such factors before announcing the floor price of maize in order to motivate the farmers to grow more food for local consumption and export.”

Mtayachalo stated that the floor price might hinder farmers from diversifying.

“Furthermore, the continued poor price of maize offered to farmers may hinder the country from achieving the much preached diversification agenda from mining to agriculture if the government continues to pay lip service to the growth of the agriculture sector. Moreover, about 40 per cent of Zambians are actively engaged in agricultural economic activities. It is therefore important that the government must design deliberate policies in order to trigger growth in the sector if we have to significantly reduce or eliminate poverty which continues to ravage our vulnerable population, especially in rural areas,” he stated.

Mtayachalo also appealed to government to help farmers sell their maize on the international market.

He appealed to the government to consider coming up with a deliberate policy which would see the FRA entering into an agreement with small and medium scale maize farmers for the agency to sell the commodity on their behalf on the lucrative international market, while a certain quantity could be bought at the local price for strategic food reserves.

“I strongly believe that such a move would result into farmers getting real value for their money and stop depending on subsidised farming inputs as they will have the financial capacity to buy their own instead of perpetually depending on the farmer input support programme, which is proving to be a bottomless pit,” stated Mtayachalo.

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(LUSAKATIMES) Lungu does not deserve credit over his maize price review as he created it – JalilaBy Ben Mbangu in Choma on July 24, 2018

COMMENT - The government wants cheap maize, and they don't want to pay for it. They could easily set the cost just below market prices. And give the maize away, turn it into finished goods (bourbon) and make money left right and center. If the government needs to make money at all, because they actually print their own currency. All they have to is keep a reasonable balance between the goods produced and the amount of currency (nowadays: credit) that is around. - MrK

(THE MAST ONLINE) Lungu does not deserve credit over his maize price review as he created it – Jalila
By Ben Mbangu in Choma
on July 24, 2018

CHOMA based human rights activist Bright Jalila says politicising the marketing of crops like maize is greatly affecting the agricultural sector. Jalila said it was cheap politics for President Edgar Lungu to turn around and direct the Food Reserve Agency (FRA) to review the marketing price when he was the major problem to the country.

In an interview, Jalila said there was no difference between government and the FRA, because they are one.
“It’s cheap politics for President Edgar Lungu to turn around and direct the Food Reserve Agency to review the marketing price when he is the major problem to the country himself. He creates a problem himself then comes back through a back door and say review this price so that people think he has a good heart for farmers,” he said.

Jalila said the President’s statement did not deserve any credit because it was just mere politicking that had no bearing on the lives of people. He said politicians had impoverished farmers by continually dictating floor price for crops.
Jalila said if farming had to be a meaningful business that transformed people’s lives and the economy, then those involved in it must not lean on government which was controlled by politicians that have no heart for the poor.

Jalila said the system of over politicizing crops like maize was greatly affecting the agricultural sector in the country.
He said government through the FRA had become a monster that only held farmers to ransom. Jalila urged farmers come up with initiatives that could enable them stand on their own without depending on the political direction to favour them.

He said cooperatives that farmers were using to access inputs from government could be used as marketing platforms for their products than waiting upon government to completely finish them off.

Jalila said the PF had completely divorced itself from the path of poverty reduction through the promotion of agriculture owing to its stance to politicise the marketing price of crops. He said soon Zambia would plunge into untold economic crisis if President Lungu continued to play politics especially on maize marketing because farmers might stop producing for business purposes.

Jalila said once farmers considered maize a non-cash crop, that had potential to create food shortages in the country.

And Chief Cooma reminded FRA that its very survival depended on the same farmers the agency was killing through low prices. He said the FRA’s realignment to politics of shifting goal posts every now and then, following politicians in determining marketing price for cash crops had potential to destroy farming in the country.

Cooma proposed K85 per 50kg bag of maize as ideal if poverty was to be addressed in rural areas.

He welcomed President Edgar Lungu’s directive to the FRA to review its earlier announced floor price for maize pegged at K65 per 50kg bag, Cooma said the directive was welcome because it was not good for government to be the one putting the last nail on its people’s lives.

“If poverty levels continue being allowed to increase through failure to protect the available simple means of people making money such as agriculture, then Zambia will be as good as a dead nation. Poor people rely on agriculture and why should government destroy the market? What type of a country is Zambia going to be?” Cooma asked.

He said the cost of living for small-scale farmers was hard and would only change if measures were put in place to safeguard the market of their produce.

The chief said small-scale farmers were at the receiving end because they had no connections for market outside country as briefcase buyers did.

He urged FRA not to involve itself in politics because it would destroy the agricultural sector.

“The other major problem is that FRA here [Southern Province] only buys white maize and farmers who plant other crops like beans have nowhere to sell their products. It is our plea that FRA should start buying other crops as well,” said Cooma.

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