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State should pay farmers who supplied maize to FRA

Dear Editor,

GOVERNMENT through the Food Reserve Agency (FRA) is owing a lot of money to the farmers who supplied maize to the agency. Farmers in Eastern Province are owed over K300 million for instance.

FRA targeted to buy 500, 000 metric tonnes of maize harvested during the 2020/2021 farming season. But FRA bought more than the targeted 500, 000 metric tonnes because the country recorded the bumper harvest during the last farming season.

The delay by the government to pay the farmers who supplied maize to FRA has affected the farmers. This is because the farmers are not able to buy the farm inputs such as seeds and fertiliser.

However, the rainy season has just begun and the farmers will start preparing the fields and ultimately plant the crops.

The Minister of Agriculture, Mr Reuben Mtolo Phiri, recently issued a ministerial statement in Parliament that the government has no money to clear the backlog of debts owed to the farmers  who supplied maize to FRA.

Mr Phiri also stated that he is not sure about when Government will have money to pay the farmers.

What is certain is that agriculture is business. If this is not good enough, the farmers depend on farming for their livelihood. Given this scenario, the government should expeditiously source for funds to pay the farmers who are owed huge sums of money.

The farmers have some financial obligations to meet. If Government delays paying the farmers, how is the latter going to settle their debts? This will create extra burdens on them.

ELEMIYA PHIRI,

Lusaka.

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