Farmers group clamours for export of soyabeans, as food agency shuts door against local purchases


The Zambia National Farmers’ Union (ZNFU) has proposed that government should immediately allow regulated exports of soyabeans for farmers to realise their investment.

The Union which is disappointed that the Food Reserve Agency (FRA) will not buy soybeans from farmers this crop marketing season said opening up the borders was the only sure way of sustaining farmers who planted the crop.

FRA on Wednesday announced that it will only buy maize and paddy rice from farmers this marketing season and not soybeans.

Jervis Zimba, ZNFU president, said in a statement on Thursday that the Union was disappointed that soyabeans would not be part of the FRA strategic reserves this marketing season when farmers in far flung areas had embraced crop diversification and the season promised a record crop of soyabeans.

“Here, we propose that government allows regulated exports of soyabeans immediately. The ZNFU would like to see a situation where all the soyabeans value chain players are sustained in business and not short-changing the farmer.

“What good will it be to abandon soyabeans farmers at crop marketing, having oriented them to growing soyabeans as an alternative crop which is also good for the soils in crop rotation? This development should be re-visited,” he said.

Read more: Food reserve agency sets maize purchasing price at K280 per 50kg bag, K100 higher than 2022 ceiling

Zimba said the idea of assuming that there was enough crushing capacity for all the beans should be interrogated with historical facts of dynamics of this value chain because in practice this was not tenable.

ZNFU has therefore invited government to a constructive consultative meeting on the soyabeans value chain so that they can together agree on pragmatic solutions.

“It is a fact South Africa has a huge soyabeans crop implying that the demand in the region for value added products will be subdued. This suggests we should also look at exports of the beans itself if the prices are to be salvaged.

“The fact that our soyabeans is non-GMO will give Zambia an edge in niche markets which traditionally pay premiums on non-GMO commodities.

On FRA buying K280 per 50 kilogrammes of maize, Zimba said it would incentivize farmers to return to producing maize for national food security and exports.

Zimba said the price was a key factor when farmers are determining which commodity to venture in producing.

“We want to reiterate that the Union remains confident that the signal set on maize pricing by FRA, will be sustained and reverse the production curve that has been on steady decrease in the last three years.

“We are encouraged and believe that it is feasible to realize the dream of being a breadbasket of the region,” he said.

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