Fuel hike blow to farmers-ZNFU

The Zambia National Farmers Union (ZNFU) in Mazabuka has described the upward adjustment in fuel prices as a blow to the flourishing agriculture sector.

Mazabuka District Agri-business manager, Clement Phiri told ZANIS in Mazabuka yesterday that the price increase is choking to the agriculture sector because it will push production costs upwards especially on commercial farmers using mechanised equipment.

Mr Phiri said there is need for government to find cheaper sources of fuel to ensure stability in the economy.

He observed that buying fuel from a cheaper source would help government in maintaining the price of essential commodities such as mealie meal.

Mr Phiri said it is sad that before ZNFU could meet government to table concerns raised by commercial farmers on the high fuel prices, the Energy Regulation Board announced the increment in fuel prices.

And the the Private Sector Development Association (PSDA) has predicted that the recent 15 percent hike in fuel pump prices has a possibility of affecting the cost of doing business in the country.

Association Chairperson Yusuf Dodia says the increase is also likely to affect prices of most goods and services.

Mr. Dodia told ZANIS in an interview in Lusaka today, that due to the rise in fuel prices, the cost of many consumer commodities will also go high by more than 15%.

He noted that the Tourism, Manufacturing and Agriculture sectors are some of the industries that will adversely be affected with adjustment in fuel prices.

He explained that in the agriculture sector, it will mean that the cost of transportation of both farming inputs and produce will change while in manufacturing production costs will be adjusted upwards.

Mr. Dodia charged that the hike will also negatively affect economic activities resulting from reduced business due to high prices of acquiring and transporting of raw materials in and outside the country.

He further added that the country will also fail to compete favourably in the region trade through the Common Market for Eastern and Southern (COMESA) customs union because of the high costs that will come with exporting of finished goods to other countries in the region.

On 12th January 2010 the Energy Regulation Board (ERB)) announced an increase in fuel pump prices.

Meanwhile, Mr. Dodia has advised government to ensure that the privatization of ZAMTEL is done in an accountable and transparent manner for the benefit of Zambia.

Reacting to Patriotic Front leader’s remarks that he will nationalize ZAMTEL once voted in to power next year, Mr. Dodia said they will be no need for Mr. Sata to nationlise the company if an equity partner is found in a transparent manner and work in accordance with the guidelines of improving operations at the institution.

He noted that this is why government should strive and ensure that a partner is selected on merit to save the interests of Zambians.

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