Local News

FERTILISER SCANDAL EXPOSED

By GIDEON NYENDWA

Scores of farmers in Northern and Muchinga provinces have been left dry after Neria’s Investments failed to deliver fertiliser despite being fully paid by Government.

According to Daily Nation investigations, the company has no stock in its depots or warehouses.

In addition, transporters have also not been paid and are equally pushing to have their money.

One of the transporters, Mr Dickson Banda, said the government should probe what was going on at Neria’s because a lot of people would be affected.

Mr Banda complained that it was unfair that they have not been paid for the fertiliser that they already delivered. 

“We understand there is nothing to move for now, but we should have been paid for the fertiliser which we transported. This is a very serious issue which is affecting our companies because workers are complaining because they have not been paid as well,” Mr Banda said.

He said he did not understand why after promising to pay after a meeting, Neria’s Investments decided to go quiet.

He challenged the minister to demand to see the sheds and he won’t find any fertiliser there. 

 At the time of going to press, farmers in Northern, Muchinga, Eastern and Central provinces had not received their Urea or top dressing fertiliser from Neria’s, who have remained mute over the matter.

When contacted for the company’s position on the matter, Neria’s General Manager, Martin Chaikatisha, referred all queries to the company directors. 

According to PACRA records, the directors of Neria’s Investment are Mr Bokani Soko and Mr Zuneid Yousuf.

When contacted for a clarification, Ministry of Agriculture Permanent Secretary Green Mbuzi said he was at a loss because the person he had been dealing with, Mr Soko, had stopped picking his calls.

Attempts to get a comment from Mr Soko and the other director, failed as phone calls went unanswered. Whatsapp messages show that messges were delivered and read but no reply.

Some farmers complained that it has become apparent that Neria’s Investments has failed to meets its contractual obligations. The farmers have asked Government to intervene before the farming season window closes.

However, when contacted for a comment on the policy direction in this matter since farmers are desperately in need of fertiliser, Agriculture minister, Mtolo Phiri, said the best people to ask were Neria’s Investment themselves.

When President Hakainde Hichilema took office, he disclosed that some fertiliser suppliers had been paid for fertiliser which was not supplied.

Last week, farmers in Nakonde protested at the continued delay in supplying them with inputs.

They complained that the situation could affect the yield for this year’s farming season.

The farmers have called on the government to take disciplinary action against agriculture officers whom they accuse of having failed to do their work and taking them for granted for too long.

But the acting District Agriculture Coordinating Officer (DACO), Mr Jimmy Phiri attributed the delay to the erratic supply of fertiliser by the supplier, Neria’s Investment as he denied accusations of taking farmers for granted.

About 20 cooperatives in the district have not received Urea and are anxious that the delay would affect production because the crops are past the stage at which top dressing is applied for a good yield.

Mr Phiri admitted that that most farmers in the district have not received urea fertiliser because the supplier has been slow.

Mr. Phiri said it was not possible that the officers could ask for a bribe because they are not present when the farmers redeem fertiliser from the supplier but only come in to attend to complaints regarding its quality among others.

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