THE Chipata District Farmers Association says it expects government to set the maize market floor price above K150 owing to the increased cost of production that farmers incurred in the 2020/21 farming season.
Association coordinator Virgil Malambo said the government should be considerate that farmers were subjected to escalating cost of inputs with fertiliser costing over K550 from K380.
In an interview, Malambo said the government should also take into account that not all farmers benefited from the Farmer Input Support Programme when setting the maize floor price.
“Not all the farmers got subsidised inputs and the prices of the inputs skyrocketed. As a matter of fact, some of the farmers that sell more maize to the Food Reserve Agency do not benefit from subsidised inputs. It will only be fair enough that government sets the price at not less than K150 per 50 Kilogramme bag,” he said.
Malambo said the price of the commodity was K110 in the 2020 marketing season.
“The cost of production was much lower as fertiliser was costing K380 then (2019/2020 season),” he said.
And Malambo appealed to the government to rehabilitate feeder roads in the province to enable farmers afford the cost of transporting their produce to markets.
He said farmers incur losses because the cost of transporting their crops to markets increases due to the poor road infrastructure.
“Even the vendors who buy from the farmers use the poor road terrain to set the prices of the agriculture commodities lower,” he said.
Meanwhile, Malambo said his organisation had not received a bigger picture about the availability of groundnuts in the district to determine the levels of production following the low production that was recorded in 2020.
He, however, noted that some parts of the province have already reported low production of groundnuts.
“We need to get a larger picture to determine how the disease has affected production this year compared to last year,” Malambo said.
Last year, Eastern Province reported low production of groundnuts following a viral infection that affected crop fields.