ADD leader Charles Milupi says it is frustrating that President Edgar Lungu has failed to honour his promise of revising the maize flow prices, after raising farmers expectations.
Milupi said in an interview with News Diggers! that farmers do not have the money to prepare their fields because they held on to their maize in anticipation of a better offer from President Lungu’s intervention.
“When he [President Edgar Lungu] made that pronouncement that he is going to adjust [maize floor prices], it raised the expectations in the minds of these very hard working farmers. The fact that they have taken so long and have not bothered to do anything is adding further frustrations and concerns from the farming community. What is happening is that because people are keeping their maize in hope that prices will go up,farmers have not had the money which they normally get from paying their crop, to prepare their land,” he said.
Milupi said the coming farming season would be challenging to farmers because of lack of funds and delayed inputs.
“People normally think that when you are a farmer you just plant maize and get your whatever. There is a lot of things that you do. You repair and replace your equipment, you repair your roads that were damaged by the rains and so on. All these things have not been done. Even making plans as to how many hectares you are going to do has not been done. You need to make plans to buy fertilizer, to buy seed, to buy input and so on. This has not been done. By this lack of action on announcing a proper price, the President and the PF government have acted very negatively to this year’s farming season. Let him [the President] just ask the people who sell fertilizer, who sell seed and who sell chemicals. Their businesses have been very badly hit because farmers are not happy because of the incompetence and lack of force by this government,” Milupi said.
He said in Nkeyema district, maize was being bought at K45 which was too low for farmers to be sustained.
“What is happening is that, those who are going around buying maize are offering far much less than K50. I have just come from an area called Nkeyema [district] where I have a farm where I produce maize and soya beans. People there are offering to buy maize at K45 per bag. Way, way below what it costs to produce, and many people are trying to keep their maize hoping that this President will come up with a better price,” said Milupi.
“I think it is very frustrating. ZNFU raised their concern and also opposition political parties like the one I’m heading also raised their concerns. Not for the sake of merely criticising, but because we know how central the agricultural sector is in terms of providing employment and providing wealth for our population.