The Zambia National Farmers Union (ZNFU) says the call on Government by the Zambia Union of Financial Institutions and Allied Workers to ban maize exports so that the country only exports finished products in the form of mealie meal, should be treated with utmost caution and be well thought through.
In a statement, ZNFU Media and Public Relations Manager Calvin Kaleyi says the question that should be asked is whether the country has adequate storage facilities where this maize can sit while the process of adding value takes place.
He has questioned where farmers, 85% of whom are small scale farmers will store their maize and at what cost, if the Food Reserve Agency buys only 500, 000 metric tonnes in a season.
Mr Kaleyi states that Zambia has 458 grain storage units with a capacity to hold 2 million metric tonnes of which only 1.1 million metric tonnes is grain-habitable, while the rest needs major facelift and overhaul.
He adds that Government does not have adequate silos to store away maize from farmers, neither is it willing to buy maize off of all farmers, given the FRA’s capacity, both financially and in terms of storage capacity.
Mr Kaleyi says the storage inadequacies have resulted in the usage of modest technology; slabs, logs and sheds.
He further states that stopping the maize from being exported would lead to prices crashing further from the current K1.2ngwee per kilogram.
He says while this may be good for millers and consumers, it is definitely a stumbling block to the growth of the agriculture sector.
Mr Kakoma says reduced earnings would lead to reduced investments and production, and ultimately reduced processing, thereby resulting in loss of jobs and increased poverty among farmers and rural dwellers.