South farmers shun FRA

SOME farmers in Southern province have opted to sell their maize to briefcase buyers instead of the Food Reserve Agency (FRA) following a directive from UPND top officials.
This came to light on Friday when FRA executive director Chola Kafwabulula inspected maize sheds in Chikankata district.
But a UPND Councillor has described as nonsense any political interference in the purchase of maize by FRA from farmers, which is aimed at preserving national food security.
According to Mr. Kafwabulula, of the 3.3 million metric tons of maize Zambia recorded in the 2019-2020 farming season, Southern province produced 488,000 metric tonnes but the FRA has so far bought only 9,000 tons in the region.
A source who sought anonymity told journalists that soon after farmers finished harvesting their maize in April this year, Chikankata MP Kabwe Chrispin Mwiinga allegedly urged them on a local radio station not to sell their produce to the agency on grounds that it paid late, fertilizer was expensive, and that government allegedly did not care about them.
“Since this is the opposition stronghold most farmers listened and they have since been selling their maize to briefcase buyers,” the source said.
But UPND Malala ward Councilor Ian Namakala apologized to Mr. Kafwabulula for the farmers’ move not to sell their maize to the FRA.
Mr. Namakala also thanked government for enabling people of Chikankata to buy maize from the FRA during the hunger situation following a drought in the previous farming season.
He said he is worried that the farmers in the district do not want to sell their maize to FRA after benefiting from the agency during the hunger situation when most people were feeding on wild fruits.
He said he does not tolerate the nonsense of political interference in the purchase of maize by FRA from the farmers.
“There is no way you can you can politicise this issue which can help a lot of people. You can politicise other issues but not this one which is independent.
“Only a few months ago we had a hard time when everyone struggled up and down looking for food. FRA helped us to buy maize from the Kaleya shed in Mazabuka at K111 per 50 kilogram bag of maize and by then some people were selling maize at K300 per 50 kilogram bag. We should learn to appreciate as farmers,” Mr. Namakala said.
He further disclosed that he is also one of the farmers that have sold maize to FRA in the current crop marketing season and has since been paid all his money.
But when contacted for a comment, the Chikankata lawmaker said it was not true that he urged people to sell their maize to FRA.
Mr Mwiinga said it was up to the farmers to sell their produce to any organization or person they wanted.
“It is not true. Besides, I am not the one who was farming those maize on their behalf to have control over then. I don’t talk ill about other organisations,” he said.

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