Private sector participation increased in the 2018/19 marketing season compared to the previous one. Large and small-scale traders who went into the crop market earlier than the Food Reserve Agency (FRA), were mostly those that engage in other businesses such as retailing and transporta- tion in addition to well established large traders and millers. For the medium and larger scale traders, Lusaka and the Copperbelt provinces remained the leading consuming markets with large milling companies being the main buyers.
Generally, farm gate prices for various commodities such as maize, sunflower, soya beans, and cotton were higher in the 2018/2019 marketing season compared to the 2017/2018 marketing season. Low production coupled with increased competition among market players contributed to the market situation at the time. This competition partly added to the steady rise in the price of maize, which was good for farmers with access to markets and a large surplus to sell. By and large, maize supply continued to reduce due to low production and as farmers’ stocks ran low inducing further price increases during the lean period. Although starting slightly later than usual, the reference purchase price per 50 kg bag maize grain had reached over ZMW 100 by mid-January 2019. This upward trend is expected to continue up until the next harvest in May/June 2019. Equally, the retail price of maize grain in the major markets have increased by almost 25% across all provincial capitals

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