Angry farmers demand payment
Nchelenge, 25 November, 2014, ZANIS…Farmers in Nchelenge district of Luapula province are angered by the delay by the Food Reserve Agency (FRA) to pay them for the maize supplied to the Agency.
ZANIS reports that the irate farmers have threatened to hand the ruling PF a protest vote in the January 20, 2015 presidential by-elections due to the delayed payments.
The farmers stormed the District Commissioner (DC) Royd Chakaba’s office yesterday around 11: 00 hours demanding to be paid their dues.
Speaking on behalf of the farmers, Edwin Mulenga warned that the government must move in and pay the farmers or grapple with the protest vote during the forthcoming presidential by-election.
The Food Reserve Agency (FRA) in Nchelenge has only paid K2, 616, 450.00 out of K8, 620, 010 worth of white maize supplied by farmers in the district.
Mr. Mulenga of Ntoto satellite depot said the government must seriously look into the plight of farmers and help them get their hard earned money from the Agency.
He said the government should ensure the farmers are paid their money and warned that any further delay would warrant a protest vote.
He complained that the small scale farmers have become a laughing stock because they cannot sustain their families and later on send children to school.
He charged that the government should prevail and provide leadership over the matter by paying the farming community to end the misery and shame they have been subjected to.
He said the government should endeavour to make farming profitable in order to grow the agricultural sector through a readily available and accessible market.
He observed that agriculture in the area is on the surge and has become the main economic stay following the depletion of the fish stocks in the Mweru-Luapula Fishery.
He bemoaned the delayed payments to the farmers and expressed worry that this may adversely affect the yields for the 2014/2015 farming season.
Mr. Mulenga advised that the government should open up milling plants in the area as a way of increasing the market base for the farmers because the FRA has failed them.
And the Food Reserve Agency (FRA) has only paid a paltry 30 per cent of the K8, 620, 010 worthy of white maize owed to the small scale farmers in Nchelenge District.
FRA assistant marketing manager Handins Mwale disclosed this during a heated meeting with angry farmers that stormed the DC’s office yesterday.
Mr. Mwale said the agency has paid K2, 616, 450.00 of the total cost for the produce supplied representing a paltry thirty point five per cent.
He however said K21, 000 of the balance has been remitted into the National Credit and Savings Bank (NATSAVE) account at Nchelenge branch for further payments.
Meanwhile, Nchelenge District Commissioner (DC) Royd Chakaba yesterday pleaded with the angry farmers and assured them that the government had already sourced the money to clear the backlog.
Mr. Chakaba said the PF government appreciates the contribution of the small scale farmers towards food security of the country and its general development agenda.
He said the government is working on payment modalities before the farmers start getting their money and urged them to remain calm.