Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Zambia: Lessons From Marketing Season

Hopefully, the announcement last week and eventual disbursement of funds to farmers this week signals the end of the payment problems that have beset this marketing season.

Going by the reports in Chongwe, the commercial banks are blaming the Food Reserve Agency (FRA) for the delayed payments while FRA is also giving excuses for the non-payment of farmers.

It is also hoped that the FRA has the capacity to safely store the large amount of grain that has been produced this year and that none of it will go to waste.

The other point is that the private sector needs to take a more active role in buying grain from farmers rather than leave it to Government alone.

What is surprising is that even those who normally want to export maize in lean times now appear to be reluctant to participate in the market.

In short, it is important that necessary measures are taken to ensure that farmers are not discouraged in grain farming, especially maize which is a staple food for the country.

The FRA needs to work out long-term financial arrangements to avoid taking fire-fighting measures at the last minute when farmers produce beyond target.

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