By JAMES KUNDA –
The Government will maintain the current floor price of K70 per 50 kilogramme bag of maize to help stabilise mealie-meal retail prices.
Agriculture deputy minister Greyford Monde said if Government increased the maize floor price beyond K70, millers would be compelled to hike prices of the staple food, forcing the commodity out of reach to ordinary consumers.
“The floor price for maize this year was agreed upon following consultations of all interested parties and K70 is fair to promote a balance in trade.
“Any upward adjustment could definitely benefit the farmers but that would be risky as millers will be prompted to hike the cost of the commodity owing to the increase in purchase costs,” Mr Monde said in an interview.
Government wanted to maintain the price of mealie-meal within the reach of ordinary consumers, hence the move to continue subsidising inputs under the Farmer Input Support Programme(FISP).
Mr Monde said Government has opened the maize marketing season to participation from the private sector to provide an alternative market for farmers.
Recently, Zambia National Farmers Union president Evelyn Nguleka said the maize floor price announced by Government recently was disappointing in view of the rising costs of production.
“We are very disappointed because in the Southern Africa region, maize is about US$420 per tonne, and what we are offering is probably close to half,” Dr Nguleka said in a statement.
MAZ president Allan Sakala said in a separate interview that the upward adjustment might inevitably contribute to raising the price of mealie-meal.
“As an association, we do not dictate prices to individual millers but we need to know the costing and if millers can absorb the current price which has been announced by the government.
But as the costs rise, it might be inevitable to adjust them accordingly,” Mr Sakala said.
Government adjusted the maize floor prices for the 2013/2014 marketing season from K65 to K70 per 50 kilogramme bag.