By BENNIE MUNDANDO
WE have betrayed commercial farmers’ trust over early maize production and we should not blame them next time if they boycott, Zambia Republican Party (ZRP) president Wright Musoma has said.
Last week, the Millers Association of Zambia (MAZ) claimed that there was no maize on the market for individual millers to continue producing mealie meal.
However, the Zambia National Farmers Union (ZNFU) reacted angrily to the statement describing it as shocking as Zambia had plenty of maize from commercial farmers after they were asked by Government to venture into early maize production to cushion the looming deficit.
ZNFU accused both the millers and Food Reserve Agency (FRA) of playing delaying tactics and refusing to buy the maize as provided for in the tripartite agreement to which they ascribed to because they wanted to continue getting cheap maize from the agency once harvesting started.
The ZNFU said it was utterly shameful that MAZ could resort to peddling lies when the country had huge stocks of early maize to a tune of 146, 510 metric tonnes, which large scale farmers were grappling with to sell.
“We regret to say that the statement issued by MAZ is misleading and simply hot air because the early maize is abundantly ready and they, together with FRA, are the ones that are stalling on the tripartite contract signing,” read the statement from ZNFU in part. But speaking to the Daily Nation yesterday, Mr. Musoma said millers had continued to manipulate Government for a long time while making a fortune from the cheap maize from FRA by purposefully claiming that there were shortages of the commodity.
He warned that if Government did not put its foot down, millers would continue sabotaging the economy adding that any player who aimed to create confusion in order to cash in at this critical time that Government was battling with the Coronavirus did not mean well.
He said despite millers being given cheap maize, mealie meal prices had continued skyrocketing and wondered why Government must continue subsiding a group of ungrateful investors.
“We have been unfair to the commercial farmers who produced maize at a cost at the request of Government to cushion the looming maize shortage because we seem to be giving millers too much space for manipulation.
“One day, we will need these commercial farmers whom we are today mistreating and they will refuse to produce. This will plunge this country into a crisis because we have been a little bit careless. Millers are not being sincere,” Mr. Musoma said.
By BENNIE MUNDANDO