By AARON CHIYANZO in Mkushi
PRESIDENT Edgar Lungu has appealed to Financial Institutions to relax the repayment mode for farmers with loans because they have also been negatively affected by various challenges.
And President Lungu has said the Bank of Zambia, ministries of Finance and Commerce, Trade and Industry would interrogate the interest rates to see if adjustments could be made.
President Lungu said financial institutions should help reduce pressure on farmers because they are going through a tough season characterized by numerous challenges.
The President said his administration is aware that farmers are struggling to meet their obligation to financial institutions which has led to some of them to default on loans.
“I wish to appeal to financial institutions to relax pressure on farmers. I am aware that farmers are struggling to meet their obligations with the banks because of the challenges they are facing,” President Lungu said.
He said Government is striving to address the water and electricity challenges the farming community is facing not only in Mkushi but across the country.
“We expect the power challenge to be over once the 760 megawatt Kafue Lower power plant is completed by the end of this year. The farming community need adequate electricity and water in order to produce,” he said.
The Head of State was speaking when he launched the National Wheat Harvest at Chobe Agrivision Farm in Mkushi farming block.
Speaking earlier, Central Province Minister Sydney Mushanga thanked the President for flagging off the 2020/2021 season seed distribution earlier last month.
Mr Mushanga said the province produces 50 percent of the country’s cereals and ranks top in agricultural productions.
The Minister said with the construction of Momboshi Dam, the country will in near future stop depending on rain fed agriculture.
Speaking earlier, Zambia National Farmers Union (ZNFU) Javis Zimba said the 2020 farming season has been challenging to all farmers.
Mr Zimba appealed to government to come to the aid of farmers by resolving the water challenge and other challenges.
And in his remarks, Minister of Agriculture Michael Katambo said the Food Reserve Agency will manage to purchase the targeted 1 million metric tons of maize at the price of K110 per 50kg bag of maize.
Mr Katambo said Government consulted all stakeholders when coming up with the purchasing price for maize and wondered why the farmers union had started opposing the move.
And Mkushi Farms Association chairperson Dereck Nicolle said the coming of the President to the farms shows that farmers of the Mkushi are doing things right.
Mr Nicolle informed the President that farming activities in Mkushi is on the verge of collapse due to the numerous challenges affecting farmers during this season.
Meanwhile, President Edgar Lungu has advised farmers to package their businesses innovatively and sellable to banks in order to easily access financin,.
The President has also advised farmers to venture into avocado growing, saying that the crop had a huge market and was profitable.
By AARON CHIYANZO in Mkushi