Government to subsidies small scale farmers through cooperatives

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Government to subsidies small scale farmers through cooperatives

Kabwe,  JULY 6, ZANIS  ——— Government says it will continue to subsidize small scale farmers through the cooperatives as it believes that the movement can be used as an engine in the economic development of the country.

Kabwe District Commissioner Patrick Chishala said the previous bumper harvest which was recorded would not have been possible without the effort from the co-operative movement and other stakeholders.

Mr Chishala was speaking today at the commemoration of the 91st ICA International Co-operatives Day which is also the 19th UN International Day whose theme was “Co-operative Enterprises remains strong in time of crisis”.

Mr Chishala said government has taken up a new policy on agriculture inputs and maize subsidy where 900, 000 beneficiary farmers are targeted in the input support programme for 2013/2014 farming season.

He said each beneficially will continue to receive 4 by 50 kilogram (kg) bags of fertilizer with a 1 by 10kg bag of seed free of charge, adding that farmers would be allowed to exchange 2 by 50Kg bags of maize for 1 by 50kg bag of fertilizer.

“This means that 8 by 50kg bags of maize will be exchanged for 4 by 50kg bags of fertilizer, the option also provided at K100 per 50kg bag and this means a pack will now cost K400,” he explained.

The District Commissioner further said that government would this year implement the Electronic E- voucher system meant to remove government from physical handling of fertilizer but that beneficiary farmers will be given a voucher which they can use to redeem inputs at the participating Agro-dealer outlets.

He explained that Kabwe would be among the 10 districts in the country where the E-voucher system would be piloted, other districts being Chibombo, Mumbwa, Kapiri-Mposhi, Choma, Monze, Mazabuka and Chongwe.

Mr Chishala reminded the co-operators that government would again this year implement maize buying through Food Reserve Agency (FRA) in all the 11 satellite depots across Kabwe district.

Speaking earlier at the same occasion Board Chairman for Kabwe District Co-operative Union, Gabriel Ngosa said his Union was ready to partner with government and the private sector to build the capacity of co-operators and small scale farmers.

Mr Ngosa said the partnership will also ensure the practice of modern farming methods, reduction on the cost of productivity, income generating activities and stable household security in line with
government policy.

He appealed to government to assist the co-operators access loans through Citizens Economic Empowerment Commission (CEEC) and other forms of financing for the projects they have embarked on.

He further appealed to both government and other stakeholders to help co-operators access the international market for their produce to enhance the household incomes so that they contribute to the national strategic reserves as well as to export the excess produce.

He said Co-operators play an important role in ensuring that the nation is food secure.

“We would like to appreciate government for the subsidy on the farmer input support programme which has continued to assist the most vulnerable in society,” he said.

And the District Agricultural and Co-operatives Officer, Kingsley Zimba said it was saddening that most farmers in the district had already sold their maize to the local Milling companies who are offering prices between K67 and K70 per 50 kg bag.

He said farmers argue that the milling companies pays them cash and meet transport costs as opposed to FRA’s low prices and late payments for the maize.

Over 100 co-operative movements in Kabwe gathered to commemorate the day which was characterized by colourful drama performances in forms of dances, music, and sketches.