—–Government has assured farmers in Katete district that it will continue buying maize at its Food Reserve Agency depots.
Katete District Commissioner, Peter Kunda Kaisa, told farmers at Chimutende Food Reserve Agency (FRA) depot that the shortage of empty grain bags is as a result of the agency meeting its maize purchase target.
Col Kaisa visited Chimutende FRA depot after complaints from the farmers that the depot has run out of bags among other issues.
The farmers, who yesterday trooped to the District Commissioner’ s office to register their displeasure at the manner the buyers at the shed were handling the marketing process, said the buyers were not following the modalities set by the Food Reserve Agency.
The farmers, who were led by camp agriculture committee Chairperson, Edwin Phiri, said the buyers were not observing the firs- come-first-serve policy, a situation that has exposed some farmers to remain in the cold for a period of three weeks without being attended to.
The farmers complained that they have been seeing trucks coming from other parts of the district and across to sell their maize which has already been packed and weighed without verification by the buyers at Chimutende depot.
The farmers have since asked government to allow them sell their maize in their respective bags if it cannot manage to supply the empty grain bags to the farmers in good time.
The visibly strained farmers pleaded to government to quickly look into the matter, adding that if the problem is left unchecked some farmers may die because of sleeping in the cold.
Meanwhile, the District Commissioner has assured the farmers that the Food Reserve Agency will tomorrow receive about 50 000 empty grain bags to be distributed to the 19 depots dotted across the district.
Col Kaisa has, however, warned the FRA buyers not to take advantage of the farmers.
He added that government will not condone any form of favouritism or corrupt act in the maize marketing process.
He said farmers ought to be respected by everyone as they are contributing meaningfully to the growth and wellbeing of the country.
On the other hand the District Commissioner called on farmers to respect officers working at respective depots for them to receive a good service.