Briefcase maize buyers invades Mapunga
Solwezi, July 17, ZANIS —-Briefcase traders from the Copperbelt have invaded Mapunga area of Solwezi district and are now exploiting small scale farmers by buying maize at as low as K36.00 per 50Kg bag.
The traders have taken advantage of the delay by the Food Reserve Agency (FRA) to start buying maize from the farmers in the area who are desperate for cash.
A check by ZANIS at Mapunga Guest house found four women traders had booked rooms hoarding maize.
The women confirmed to be from Kalulushi on the Copperbelt and said they were in Mapunga area to buy maize which they would later sell to FRA at the government price of K65.00.
They said they are buying at negotiated price of K3.00 for a tin of maize, locally known as meda, and 12 of these fill a one 50kg bag.
One farmer who identified himself as Yenda-yenda said the briefcase traders have flocked to Mapunga area to buy maize cheaply taking advantage of the desperation of many small scale farmers.
Yenda-yenda said some farmers especially those who live far prefer to sell maize to briefcase traders because they cannot afford to transport the produce to satellite depots.
He said the farmers are also motivated to sell maize at a give-away price because they get instant payment.
This is unlike when they have to wait for a long time after supplying to FRA while they also dread the cumbersome transportation of hiring a motorcycle at K600.00 to get to Solwezi whenever they make follow-ups at FRA for their payments.
Meanwhile teachers at Mapunga, Musakashi, Kabunene and Kakema basic schools have complained over being exploited by transporters who are over charging fares whenever they travel to Solwezi for their salaries.
Speaking on behalf of other teachers, Yvonne Kakumbi and Donvan Kasazhi told ZANIS that 25 teachers are charged K2,000 on a canter truck to Solwezi and back to Mapunga every time they travel to collect their salaries from the banks.
The duo said Mapunga area is not being serviced by any transport from Solwezi due to the extremely damaged 138 kilometre Solwezi-Mapunga road.
Ms Kakumbi and Mr Kasazhi said the teachers are forced to beg transporters who come to the area from Kalulushi to transport them to Solwezi.
However, due to the bad road the transporters demand exorbitant transport fares and only agree if teachers raise K2,000 to pay for the return trip.
The distance between Mapunga in Chief Mujimanzovu’s area and Solwezi town is only a distance of 138 kilometres but it takes four hours to cover by a 4×4 Toyota Landcruiser due to the poor state of the road.
Chief Mujimanzovu told ZANIS that Solwezi-Mapunga-Kalulushi road is an economical lifeline that would improve the well-being of his subjects once it is worked on.
The chief said currently he has no words to describe the poor state of the road.