The flow price has been reduced from K85 to K60 per 50kg bag of maize when the cost of production has actually skyrocketed beyond the reach of many farmers owing to the escalating costs of farming inputs such as fertilizer, chemicals, seed and equipment. The cost of transport, packaging, storage, loading and offloading have equally hit the roof, making it more expensive for farmers to market their produce. With the rising cost of production it is only prudent for any decent and caring Government to peg the floor price at a rate that takes into full consideration of the production and marketing fundamentals.
Today, a farmer is making losses of K25 and K1000 per every 50kg bag or one tonne of maize sold, respectively. The price of maize per tonne has fallen from K3400 last year to K2400 this year despite the fact that the cost of producing this same tonne has risen to over K3200 per tonne. Equally, the flow price of Soya beans has plummeted from K5 in the last marketing season to K1.50n this season.
In short, the announced flow price will worsen the poverty situation in the country which is already hovering at alarming levels of over 75% among our rural population.
Agriculture being a high labour intensity venture is the only sure solution to massive job creation and poverty eradication. And any serious government would invest heavily in Agriculture to combat the current high unemployment and poverty levels through improved production and marketing.
When it comes to singing, the PF Government has been so good. They have spent 5 years now singing about agriculture and diversification but they have lamentably failed to invest in the sector and implement policies that would make their song of Agriculture and diversification a reality.
Moving forward we propose the following:
1. That 20% of the next 5 national budgets must be allocated to Agriculture to ensure the following:
a) Mordenised methods of production to improve yields
b) Supply of adequate farming inputs on time
c) Value addition through agro-processing to increase forex and create jobs
d) Serious investment in extenstion activities and information sharing to equip farmers with the knowledge concerning their preferred agro activities
e) Increased investment in Irrigation
f)Increased investment in fish and animal farming
g) Increased investment in other high value cash crops.
2. Government must seriously work on reducing the cost of production by subsidising production and stabilising the general macro fundamentals to ensure low cost of goods and services. If we subsidise production, we will make it cheaper and profitable for farmers to engage in Agriculture.
3. Government must work with other stakeholders to help farmers access markets and make it cheaper and easier for them to trade.
Issued by Antonio Mwanza
FDD Deputy National Secretary