The challenges of the rural Zambian farmer are almost impossible to comprehend from the comfort of our lives in the US. After fighting relentlessly for a bumper crop, which included long lasting rains and army worms, the unforeseen has struck again.
The rains did not fall just on Zambia. They fell on all the surrounding countries, as well, creating a gigantic surplus of grain nearly everywhere. This means that the countries that have historically been the biggest customers of Zambian grain, when the Government has allowed its sale, now have surpluses. This has led the market price of Maize to drop by as much as 30%. The Government does not have storage facilities for all the surplus, and no ready market, so the grain is in danger of rotting on the ground in makeshift holding areas.
Victor says that the price has dropped so low that many rural farmers will have spent more on fertilizer and seed that they will make in selling the maize to the Government. In fact, the Government has now capped the amount of Maize they will buy from each farmer, so that the individual farmer must find another outlet for their maize. In Chilupula that is a great challenge, since they are so far from roads or markets.
Sometimes it seems that even good news is bad news in Zambia. Victor is meeting with the Coop this week and will send us a report soon.