Farmers have lost about K80 million of potential proceeds due to the government’s delays in buying farmers, maize, a study by the African Institute for Corporate Citizenship (AICC) has shown.
Two state agents, the Agricultural Development and Markerting Corporation (Admarc) and the National Food Reserve Agency (NFRA) are mandated to procure maize on behalf of the government.
Admarc commenced maize procurement in July, initially at K150 per kilogramme.
Last week, Agriculture Minister, Kondwani Nankhumwa permitted Admarc to increase the buying price to K200 per kg.
AICC analysis shows that, between April and June this year, farmers were selling the commodity at K100 per kilogramme (kg) and then, over 800 metric tonnes were on demand.
In an interview on Monday, AICC Project Manager for Market Access, Leonard Chimwaza, said the move had defeated the whole idea of releasing farm gate prices or the credibility of having the farm gate prices in place.
“Government was supposed to plan accordingly. The purchasing calendar for maize must be aligned to the agriculture calendar. The notion of purchasing maize in July, thus three months late hasn’t assisted the SMEs across the country,” Chimwaza said.
Admarc spokesperson, Agness Chikoko Ndovi, disputed assertions that procurement of maize started late.
Ndovi said the grain trader was waiting for the commodity to have the required moisture content for storing.
“People think we commence procurement late because the vendors start buying from farmers when the maize is not thoroughly dried,” Ndovi said.
NFRA General Manager, Nasinuku Saukira, said they expected to start buying maize from Tuesday next week and were expected to run the exercise for seven days.
“We have K8 billion to spend and we are not spending more than K200 per kilogram, meaning K200, 000 per tonne so we are looking at 40, 000 tonnes,” Saukira said.
In 2017, the government banned exportation of maize to ensure that the country stocked adequate supplies for the strategic grain reserves.
The ban was, however, heavily criticised by some civil society organisations and economists.
About K69 billion was reportedly lost in potential export revenue due to the maize export ban.