BUUMBA CHIMBULU writes

FARMERS must bargain for the best price for their produce and not rely on what the Food Reserve Agency (FRA) is offering, the Zambia National Farmers Union (ZNFU) has advised.

The union urged its members to look at the prices prevailing in different parts of the country and not to rely on the FRA’s price.

FRA last week announced the price of K110 for a 50kg bag of white maize, K140 for soya beans and K70 for a 40kg bag of paddy rice.

ZNFU media and public relations manager Calvin Kaleyi said farmers should search and obtain the best price possible prevailing in their respective area.

Mr Kaleyi said in a statement farmers should negotiate better prices for their yields, even with private buyers who were offering more and paid spot cash.

Farming profitably, he said, currently had remained unattainable for many farmers.

Recognising that there are different producer prices prevailing in different parts of the country and the fact that the maize production forecast declined, farmers should search to obtain the best price possible prevailing in the area,” said Mr Kaleyi.

He said ZNFU recognised that the cost of production had increased and continued to escalate while the asset base of farmers had been wiped out by the adverse weather pattern.

This, he said, had been prevailing season after season since 2015 compounded by the hostile macroeconomic environment.

Mr Kaleyi regretted that the FRA price of K110 for a 50kg bag was far below the current maize prices being offered in the main producing areas such as Central and Eastern provinces.

“ZNFU was invited to a consultative meeting with the Ministry of Agriculture and the announced price is nowhere near the range recommended by the stakeholders of K130 to K140 per 50kg bag of white maize based on prevailing market price indications,” he said.

The price of maize has been a controversial issue every year with farmers complaining that the prices FRA had been offering had been disadvantaging them and causing them to make losses.

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