Albertina Nakale Windhoek-Communal farmers in the Zambezi Region have accused the Agro Marketing and Trading Agency (AMTA) of ripping them off by offering them peanuts when buying grains from them to be stored in the national silos. Namibia has a capacity of about 22,900 tonnes of grain while 4,000 of these grains are derived from last year’s harvest. Although these aggrieved farmers are now stranded with a grain surplus following this year’s bumper harvest, the subsistence farmers are complaining AMTA is not offering them a competitive market-related price for their grain which they worked hard to produce. They complain that AMTA is offering them about N$4,680 per tonne of grain, which they say is way too little. Therefore, farmers in Zambezi have demanded that government increase the price charged per tonne to at least more than N$5,000. In an interview the Zambezi Regional Governor Lawrence Sampofu confirmed that farmers are unhappy over the prices offered for grain by AMTA. He noted farmers are very happy with their bumper harvest this year and AMTA is busing buying such grains. “Most of them have sold their surplus grains. The only complaint we got is that prices offered by AMTA are very low. They say AMTA is charged for transport therefore the farmers are complaining that they are not being assisted. They want the price of grain per tonne to be increased,” Sampofu stated. Contacted for comment, AMTA managing director Lucas Lungameni said prices are not determined by them, but rather by the Namibian Agronomic Board (NAB). He said every year before the ploughing season, the NAB normally sits with stakeholders including producers and millers to determine the price to be charged for the next season. “That price is set and they sign an agreement. That is what we call a floor price for the country. Meaning you can’t go down from that price, but you can go up – it’s not a ceiling,” Lungameni explained. He added AMTA and the millers are using the set floor price. He noted AMTA went an extra mile to go in the villages and collect the grains to help cut transport costs for farmers. “We are also charging but it’s very minimal than what they are paying if they have to take it to a miller or to Katima Mulilo by themselves. If they must bring it to Otavi where there is Namib Mills it is even worse because they must pay the transport costs,” he reacted. He said such a price is determined on a mill door – meaning such a price is only applicable when one delivers at a mill. He said the prices they offer are reasonable, adding that currently they offer close to N$5,000 per tonne of grain. He said the current price AMTA is offering is good compared to prices offered to farmers in South Africa, which are in the range of N$3,000. He said this is the reason why in most cases Namibian millers prefer to import rather than buy locally. “Outside it’s cheap and our prices are determined by a floor price because you can’t pay below that which is good for the country, since we are a net importer,” he explained. According to him, Namibia currently has a bumper harvest of about 70,000 tonnes, while the country’s consumption is normally above 150,000 tonnes. “This means that is just half of what we locally consume. If we pay our farmers well, we still have room to improve and millers still have a chance to import cheaper because it’s on a 50/50 basis. That’s why I said for us it’s good because we normally give best prices for our farmers and we encourage them to produce. On the other hand, our millers are also importing – meaning if they buy expensive here then they will offset that markup from the local market with the imported one,” he maintained. The governor said farmers are already preparing their fields for the next ploughing season. He encouraged farmers in the region to work hard in their fields, saying it’s an opportunity to harvest more and tackle food insecurity.
New Era Reporter
2017-09-04 10:23:36 2 years ago