By SIMON MUNTEMBA
DESPERATE farmers in Chief Chanje’s area in Chipangali are selling their maize at giveaway prices to briefcase buyers because the Food Reserve Agency (FRA) is failing to buy the crop and in some cases, not providing empty grain bags.
Chief Chanje has complained that briefcase buyers have raided his chiefdom exploiting desperate farmers by buying maize at as low as K100 per 50kg bag,
Chief Chanje of the Chewa people said delays by the FRA to pay farmers for maize supplied to the agency has forced some of them to sell the commodity at cheaper prices to briefcase buyers.
He said in an interview that briefcase buyers were taking advantage of the situation to exploit desperate farmers who were in need of money to buy farming inputs.
Chief Chanje said he had sent traditional counsellors to verify the situation who reported back that the situation was bad.
“This follows the complaints from my subjects and those from Chikuwe and Mshawa Chiefdoms. I sent my indunas to verify on those complaints in the FRA depots and they found that most farmers have stayed at FRA depots with their maize unsold for over two months because of shortage of FRA bags, while others have not been paid yet
“And vendors (briefcase buyers) have invaded my area and are buying maize at a cheaper price, some buying as low as K100,” he said.
Chief Chanje appealed to Government to intervene and help farmers before they made huge losses.
He said the sad situation could affect the 2021-2022 yields.
Meanwhile, the FRA said it would buy all white maize delivered at their satellite depots.
FRA public relations coordinator John Chipandwe said in a statement that the agency would immediately resume the purchasing of maize.
He however said the purchases would be restricted to maize already delivered to various satellite depots countrywide and that no new deliveries shall be bought by FRA.
Mr Chipandwe urged the farmers to exercise patience with regards to the delivery of empty grain bags as the agency had continued delivering them as and when received from suppliers.