Zambia set back the price of corn and nervous the World Bank

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Society & You - Social Critic
Thursday, 07 June 2012 12:01

This post is part of our special coverage of International Relations and Security [en].

A giant Nshima pot

A giant pot Nshima, Zambia 2008. Photo blogger Mark Hemsworth (used with permission)

Nshima [in] the product as a porridge made ​​of cornmeal, has divided families [in] and led to food riots [in] in Zambia more than once. This is the reason why successive governments have remained vigilant about the growing, harvesting, buying and selling maize meal to consumers.

Maize production is a bigger problem in the Copperbelt mining region and metropolitan areas like the capital, Lusaka, where large masses of workers depend on the supply of the product. Consequently, maize determines the political leadership of the nation.

In May, the World Bank urged the government of Zambia [es] not to interfere in the determination of the minimum price of corn sold by farmers to the Food Reserve Agency and other stakeholders in the agribusiness chain. Despite these attempts, the Ministry of Agriculture announced that the minimum price of corn this year [in] will be K65, 000 (about $ 13 U.S. dollars) per sack of 50 kilos.

The World Bank Country Director for Zambia, Malawi and Zimbabwe, Kundhavi Kadiresan, criticized the decision, saying that the poor farmers in Zambia are being exploited [in] as some traders were buying up corn with the intent to resell at a higher price to State Food Reserve Agency [in]. Kadiresan also indicated [in] the World Bank is deeply concerned that not only government policy does not ensure long-term sustainable growth of agricultural sector, but it also does little to create jobs and reduce poverty.

Kadiseran could be excused. The agricultural sector in Zambia, revolves around corn, regardless of the growth of other crops or livestock. Most corn is grown by farmers who face regular drought during the rainy season, an unreliable and expensive supply of fertilizers, and difficulties in transporting goods to markets.

In 1986, the Zambian Copperbelt regions and Lusaka rioted because the price of maize increased by several times when incomes were stagnant. Four years later, upset by the price increases even provoked a coup attempt.

Announcing the new minimum price of maize, the minister of agriculture and cattle ranching, Emmanuel Chenda, said [in]:

We have taken this decision in order to protect the country's food security and to ensure that small farmers are not discouraged to produce the crop in the following years ... to ensure that maize from Zambia to be competitive in international markets, the Government will ensure that production costs are reduced by, among other strategies, provision of agricultural extension and training in transport for the mobility of extension workers to enhance productivity among small farmers.

Chenda also revealed that the Government was implementing programs to build additional storage facilities as a long-term measure to avoid waste under the Food Reserve Agency (FRA). A few days before the declaration of the minister, the FRA had destroyed a large amount [in] of paoz rotten in several districts. Chenda said:

I wish to inform the nation that most of what spoiled the FRA recently, due to inadequate storage facilities and inappropriate ... To address this challenge, the Government has begun to implement programs to build additional storage facilities as a measure of long term.

ISN logo This post and its translations into Spanish, Arabic and French have been commissioned by the International Security Network (ISN) as part of an alliance to locate voices of citizens around the world on issues of international relations and security.

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Zambian maize image Choconancy1 on Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0).

Written by Gershom Ndhlovu · Translated by Juan Arellano · View original post [en] · Comments (0)
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