NATIONAL Democratic Congress secretary general Mwenya Musenge says the delay by the government to announce the 2017/2018 maize floor price has exposed farmers to exploitation. Musenge yesterday stated that farmers had been forced to sell their grain at uneconomic prices.
“The delay to announce the floor price will further discourage farmers from growing maize during the 2018/2019 farming season. As NDC, we demand that the government announces a fair maize floor price,” Musenge stated in a statement.
“…that the floor price should be proportionate to the cost of production. The NDC is of the view that a 50-kilogramme bag of maize should be pegged at K80. Government, through the Food Reserve Agency (FRA), should float a rational and realistic floor price. We want a price that will not disadvantage farmers. Government should not allow private grain dealers to dictate the maize floor price. Farmers are producing their crops under difficult circumstances coupled with high input costs.”
Musenge stated that it was unfair that the government had allowed private grain traders to steal from desperate poor farmers.
“Government should peg a fair floor price of maize to avoid a repeat of the challenges farmers faced during the 2017/2018 farming season. The NDC further demands that FRA doubles the number of satellite depots where maize will be purchased. The seven hundred plus maize buying depots countrywide that FRA intends to open up are insufficient,” stated Musenge.
“FRA should open up more buying points, particularly in far flung localities. As NDC, we demand that FRA also doubles up the amount of maize it intends to buy from farmers. The agency should consider buying one million metric tonnes of maize instead of the half a million tonnes being proposed.”