The Food Reserve Agency has announced its maize purchase price of K65 per 50Kg bag for the 2018 crop marketing season, an increment of only K5 from last year.

Speaking during a press briefing in Lusaka, Friday, FRA board chairperson Joe Hantebe Simachela announced that the agency will commence purchase of white maize in this year’s crop marketing season on or around August 1, once the moisture content levels drop to the acceptable threshold of 12.5 per cent.

“White maize, we are buying 500,000 metric tonnes, and the price will be K65 for a 50Kg bag; soya beans, we anticipate to buy 10,000 metric tonnes and the price will be K130 for a 50Kg bag; Paddy Rice, we anticipate to buy 2,100 tonnes and the price will be K70 for a 40Kg bag,” Simachela announced.

“What we are announcing today is not the floor price, it’s an FRA price.”

Explaining the FRA’s decision to hike the price maize incrementally by only K5, Simachela stressed that the agency was “cognizant” of the budgetary implications involved in deciding on a price.

“The FRA is cognizant of the budgetary implications involving the purchase of the National Strategic Food Reserves. FRA in arriving at determined prices for 2018 undertook a process of crop price scenario analysis that included inter alia: the survey of the prevailing farm gate and open market prices; the budgetary appropriation of the 2018 FRA operation,” Simachela narrated.

FRA executive director Chola Kafwabulula stressed to journalists that the agency consulted widely before arriving at K65, adding that the price is not likely to be reviewed.

“On the review, this year, there has been a very wide consultation with other industry players; ZAMACE [Zambia Agriculture Commodity Exchange] was represented in one meeting, which was also attended by FRA; attended by the Zambia National Farmers’ Union (ZNFU); by the Grain Traders Association of Zambia; attended by the Millers Association of Zambia. So, we looked at the average that was obtaining in the market. And of critical importance to us was the price obtaining in the rural areas,” explained Kafwabulula.

“In other words, this price has been arrived at by looking at the market average with a very wide consultation; and also, with that consultation, I don’t expect any of our stakeholders to cry foul after this announcement because everyone was consulted. Now, coming to the [price] review; to the question of whether there is going to be a review or not, that is probably difficult to answer.”