Input failure raises mealie meal prices

The Zambia National Farmers’ Unions has attributed the continued sky rocketing of mealie meal prices in the country to PF government’s failure to distribute enough farming inputs to farmers.

And ZNFU president Dr. Evelyn Nguleka has said that the union would soon be meeting Vice President Dr. Guy Scott to chart the way forward about the possibility by government to revoke the export ban imposed on maize.

In an interview Dr. Nguleka partially blamed the increase in mealie meal prices on government’s decision to delay the distribution of farming inputs.

“We are doing everything possible as farmers to help the reduction of the current high cost of mealie meal prices in the country to,” she said.

Dr Nguleka explained that Zambia was not the only country whose price of local commodities such as mealie meal had gone up, adding that even in many other African countries were experiencing difficult times but that the situation was avoidable.

“I think with the good harvest which we are anticipating during 2013-2014 farming season, the situation may normalise and we shall not expect any major price increase for commodities such as mealie meal because we will have enough maize,” Nguleka said.

And Dr. Nguleka said that local farmers should be allowed to export maize in order to attract favorable competition and production.

She said that allowing the exportation of maize would also attract small scale farmer to graduate from being peasants to farmers growing more not only for consumption but for exports and in the end help to reduce the prices of mealie meal.

“The only way to reduce the price of mealie meal in the country was for the PF government to allow farmers to be exporting maize. As a union we have since started going into districts encouraging people to do more farming,” Dr. Nguleka.

She said that her union was making sure that all farmers got correct farming technology which would increase their farming productivity.

“Productivity is one of the major problem which we are facing as a country because most of our farmers are only getting 2.5 metric tonnes when they are able to get 6.5 metric tonnes of maize in the same piece of land and labor,” she said.

“All we need to do is make sure that they have the right knowledge, right finances and they have the right technology,” she said.

Dr. Nguleka said the union was in discussion with the PF government to make sure that the farmers were able to borrow money at reasonable bank rates, “Because we are not going to continue growing if the cost of borrowing in the country continues going high.”

“The farmers have no problem with prices which they have been selling their maize because that is what we agreed for ourselves,” she said.

Dr. Nguleka also said the economy was quite tough for the farmers and that during the rain season mealie meal prices usually go up.

“As the Vice President said the more we produce and export the more we shall be able to bring the dollar down,” she said.